Updated: Apr 5, 2021
Petra, the company building the Observatory Park Apartments in the former Pearson’s Wine and Spirits parking lot, has been sued by their contractor for unpaid bills. On top of that a subcontractor for another Petra development at 1731 Kalorama Road NW has sued their contractor for unpaid bills and named Petra’s LLC as a defendant in that lawsuit as well. It appears that construction on 2430 Wisconsin Avenue NW in Glover Park has been halted temporarily as a result, though that status is unclear at the moment.
The Asturian Group, a general contractor out of Virginia Beach filed a lawsuit in DC Superior Court on March 18th, 2021 demanding $562,108 for unpaid bills, plus attorney fees and interest plus any other relief deemed proper by the court. In addition, Asturian has demanded that the judge order the sale of the building and distribute the proceeds of that sale accordingly. Asturian takes the case even further, claiming that Petra misrepresented themselves as an LLC in their contract, when in fact they are a general partnership and that “Petra Development LLC” is an inactive Virginia limited liability company. Asturian acknowledges that Petra is now registered to do business in DC, though claims that at the time the construction contract was signed the LLC was not registered. This technicality appears to be more about clarifying who they are supposed to sue, what individuals they can involve, the validity of the contract nonetheless and what court has jurisdiction rather than implying additional punitive damages over legal irregularities.
In the summer of 2020, Asturian submitted one of its bills to Petra and it went unpaid, then they claim Petra terminated the contract for convenience (i.e. for any reason at any time), which Asturian acknowledges was their right according to the contract. Asturian then filed a mechanic’s lien on the property in DC land records prior to submitting the lawsuit. Asturian has retained attorney Jesse Keene with Cozen O’Connor PC to pursue the legal action. Judge Heidi Pasichow has scheduled an initial conference for June 18th – this could take a while!
Just prior to this snafu, Royal Homes, a general contractor out of Richmond VA, filed a lawsuit against Asturian over unpaid bills for a development project at 1731 Kalorama Rd NW. Petra owns this building as well and is the developer who hired Asturian as general contractor. Asturian hired Royal Homes as a subcontractor. Royal Homes claims that Petra terminated Asturian on this project as well last summer, and then they did not get paid. Royal Homes has named Petra’s LLC (“1731 Kalorama Road, NW LLC”) as a defendant in the lawsuit in addition to the Asturian Group. They are demanding $43,359 plus interest and legal fees and have hired attorney Shawn Whittaker of Whittaker Myers PC to get it for them. Judge Florence Pan is handling it separately from the Asturian lawsuit and has scheduled an initial conference for May 21st. Asturian also has been sued for $195,000 in a separate lawsuit by K&K Electric over unpaid bills for 1731 Kalorama Road, though K&K has not named Petra or their property LLC as a defendant in that one.
If all that were not enough, Raz Designs, a subcontractor out of Chevy Chase MD, has filed a lawsuit against Petra’s Kalorama LLC, Asturian and Royal Homes for unpaid bills regarding its plumbing and carpentry work on that project. Maybe K&K needs to get on the bandwagon and sue everybody as well. When Asturian was terminated last summer by Petra, Raz claims they were not paid their final bill and they now seek compensation through the DC Superior Court in the amount of $49,179 plus interest and legal fees. They have filed their own mechanic’s lien and have hired attorney Alexander Bozof with Argent Place Law PLLC to get their payment. Judge Heidi Pasichow is the arbiter for this one too. I’m guessing she might want to consolidate all this complexity? I don’t know the inner workings of the process.
Well, it looks like at a minimum the 27 units at Observatory Park Apartments will be delayed. Asturian’s demand for the judge to order the sale of the building to pay the bills sounded rather ominous though.