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Flow of lawsuits continues at Trump tower in Vancouver

Urban One Construction is latest company to sue companies related to tower developer Holborn
Demonstrators regularly protest outside the Trump International Hotel & Tower | Glen Korstrom

The long delayed Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver officially launched in late February but that has not stopped the flow of lawsuits resulting from construction of the 63-storey tower that includes a 15-floor, 147-room hotel under 217 luxury residences.

Urban One Construction Management Inc. is the latest contractor to sue companies related to the tower’s developer, Holborn Group.

Urban One’s March 14 lawsuit claims that it is owed $835,059.10 for providing contract management services and is suing Holborn Developments (West Georgia) Ltd. as well as West Georgia Holdings Inc. – both of which are companies controlled by Holborn CEO Joo Kim Tiah. There are 27 other defendants, most of whom are strata-lot owners.

“Urban One has never previously filed a lawsuit against anyone,” Urban One president Allan Beron told Business in Vancouver in an email.

“Unfortunately, in this exceptional circumstance, litigation is our only option. Prior to filing of this lawsuit, Urban One worked hard to negotiate a settlement with Holborn Developments (West Georgia) Ltd., the developer of Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver. Unfortunately, the negotiations were unsuccessful.”

Urban One's litigation is the second lawsuit filed against Holborn-related companies connected with work on the Trump tower since the tower’s splashy media launch on February 28, when sons of U.S. president Donald J. Trump – Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump – were on hand to give speeches and cut a ceremonial ribbon alongside Tiah and others.

Erwin Construction Corp., on March 2, sued Holborn-related companies as well as contractor William Kelly & Sons Plumbing Contractors (1989) Ltd.

Erwin’s lawsuit claims that it is owed $718,974.66 for providing materials and labour for the building’s mechanical systems. It seeks a lien against the property.

Other contractors have lawsuits pending.

Nova Stone Inc., for example, alleges in a suit filed last November that it provided stone work for the building and is owed $27,325.62.

Two months earlier, in September 2016, Catcan Holdings Inc. filed a suit against West Georgia Holdings Inc. and contractor CP Distributors Ltd. alleging that Catcan was not fully paid for installing finishings, including pocket frames, doors and mouldings, and is owed $41,378.30.

West Georgia Holdings did not file a response to the claim but CP alleged in its December response to Catcan that Catcan’s work was defective and not performed in a “workmanlike” manner.

(Image: Holborn CEO Joo Kim Tiah (second from left) on February 28 cuts a ceremonial ribbon to open the Trump hotel in Vancouver. Tia's father, Tony Tiah, is on the far left. To the right of Joo Kim is Donald Trump Jr., Donald Trump Jr.'s wife Vanessa Trump and Eric Trump | Rob Kruyt)

Holborn, in January, then sued Urban One Construction Management Inc. for allegedly failing to properly manage the project. Urban One's Beron told BIV that he only found out about the lawsuit from BIV's story and that his company has not been officially served of the lawsuit.

“Urban One denies that there is any substance or merit to Holborn’s allegations,” he said. “In the absence of service of the claim, Urban One has been advised by legal counsel that it is not necessary to file a response to civil claim at this time.”

These are merely the most recent lawsuits among a flurry of litigation that started when the project was a mere hole in the ground.

Canadian Property Holdings Inc. and Canadian Real Estate Investment Trust sued Holborn-related companies West Georgia Holdings Inc. and Holborn Developments (West Georgia) Ltd. in November 2009.

The plaintiffs then owned Teresen Centre, which is the tower next door, to the east, of what is now the Trump tower. They alleged that workers at the site were trespassing and placing rebar and other construction material on their property.

Worse, they alleged that because Holborn had halted construction on the tower in October 2008, and left a giant hole in the ground, that the hole exposed Teresen Centre to “risk of loss of lateral support and significant damage to its building.”

Some lawsuits related to the building were poignant in that they were filed in small claims court.

Surrey-based PK Metal Works Ltd. signed a letter of intent to work on the project and provided some “engineering and drafting” work, principal Keith Butt told BIV.

“The job was delayed,” he said. “Once it was ready to go forward some of the pricing had changed due to increases on materials and going from summer work to winter work, when there is obviously more rain and you don’t get as much done.”

Negotiations for a contract fizzled but Butt believed that his company was still owed $31,500. He filed the suit in small claims court, seeking $25,000, which is the maximum amount allowable in that court. He then settled the case out of court and is bound by confidentiality not to reveal how much his 17-employee company received.

Claims in lawsuits mentioned in this story were not proven in court and the files are either still active, were dropped or settled out of court. 

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