Perkins&Will Sues Developer Of Stalled Midtown Condo Tower For Unpaid Bills
Atlanta's second-largest architectural firm is suing the developer of a long-planned Midtown luxury condominium tower for nearly $800K in unpaid work.
Perkins&Will filed a lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court last month against Olympia Heights Management, seeking payment on two separate invoices for its work on No2 Opus Place, a project that would be the tallest residential tower in Atlanta.
Perkins&Will claims OHM never paid two invoices — one from Oct. 14, 2019, for $579,738.60 and another on June 30 for $219,934.65 — and in the suit says it owes a “substantial portion” of these invoices to third-party consultants who worked on the design of the project.
In January 2016, OHM tapped Perkins&Will as the project architect for the 730-foot-tall No2 Opus Place. OHM wanted to bring a luxury condo tower that would be found in markets like New York, Tokyo, Miami or Los Angeles to Midtown Atlanta. Residents would have sweeping views of Atlanta and access to a resort-style pool, high-end restaurants, a spa, a wine tasting and storage room, an IMAX theater and 24-hour concierge services.
But No2 Opus Place has been stuck in pre-development for years. Even though OHM “suspended its services on the project” in March of last year, according to the suit, Roni Avraham, described in the lawsuit as working on behalf of OHM, allegedly promised to pay the architect for the October invoice.
The payment was never made, Perkins&Will claims in the suit, which was filed by Smith, Currie & Hancock partners Philip Beck and Joseph Dinardo.
“Perkins&Will has made repeated good faith attempts to discuss this matter with OHM in an effort to reach a resolution and obtain payment for itself and its consultants. Despite these efforts by Perkins&Will, however, OHM has failed and refused to make any further payments,” the suit reads.
Avraham could not be reached for comment. OHM is controlled by Shaya Boymelgreen, a developer who was banned for a time from developing apartments in New York after reaching a settlement over claims of shoddy workmanship.
Stillman Welch partner Brandon Welch, OHM's attorney, told Bisnow Monday that the parties have reached a "confidential resolution" that has yet to be filed with the court.
"It's being worked through," Welch said. "I'll just say watch the docket. I can't say anything else."
After purchasing the property at 98 14th St. for $22M in 2014, OHM reshaped plans for the project several times. In the latest iteration, Olympia Heights envisioned a 53-story luxury tower with 182 condominium units and more than 200K SF of office space. The site was originally slated for three towers.
The lawsuit comes nearly a year after two other contractors on No2 Opus Place filed liens against the developer for unpaid work. Liens are a powerful tool that contractors can use to force developers to pay bills for construction work, which allows a contractor to recoup earnings before the owner can transfer title to the land. If after a year the lien remains unsatisfied, a lienholder can sue its debtor and foreclose on the property.
OHM directed Perkins&Will — the city's second-largest architectural firm, with $60M in revenues in 2019, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle — to “suspend its services on the project as a result of OHM's decision to suspend the project for reasons of its own” last March, the attorneys wrote in the lawsuit. On July 24, Perkins&Will filed a lien against the property for the two invoices.
Last year, Avraham told Bisnow the sales office had been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was unclear if or when the marketing office reopened. Much of the online marketing material for the project on Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices' website appeared to have been removed, and the project's website has been unresponsive.
Cushman & Wakefield continues to market for sale a little more than half of the 4-acre parcel for OHM, Managing Director Matt Hawkins told Bisnow. Hawkins said no date has been established for accepting final offers.
Last July, OHM obtained a loan for $25.7M with New York-based SKW Funding, refinancing $22M in debt on the property at 98th 14th St. held by The Ardent Cos., the latest in a string of short-term loans taken by OHM on the property. SKW Funding describes itself as a private lending and distressed debt platform.
UPDATE, MARCH 15, 12:25 P.M. ET: This story has been updated with comments from Stillman Welch partner Brandon Welch.