Legal action imminent’ over Caroline Bay
Angry contractors plan to sue for millions of dollars in unpaid bills for work on the stalled Caroline Bay development at Morgan’s Point, two construction firms involved in the project said yesterday.
The two warned legal action was “imminent” and one estimated that between $5 million and $10 million was owed to about 25 firms.
One said the majority of the contractors had taken legal advice on an action against Brian Duperreault, the chairman of Caroline Bay Limited.
He added: “The feeling is that Mr Duperreault could easily pay off the contractors and call it a day.”
He highlighted a scaffolding supplier owed $170,000 who was now struggling to pay his children’s school fees.
He said: “It’s always the small guy who gets hit the most.
“It’s been six months of just empty answers, nobody is saying the right thing and guys have realised they have no recourse.”
Another contractor warned: “It’s imminent. Writs will be dropped in a matter of weeks. There is a majority team that has taken advice and another splinter group that’s taken different advice, but I’m sure everyone will join in on the action.”
He said one contractor was owed more than $1 million.
“There are some in the range of $300,000 to $500,000 and a lower tier within $100,000.
“All in all, it could go to $5 million to $10 million.”
He added: “There are people who have missed mortgage payments and can’t make insurance commitments because of that development.”
The development on the former United States military base was put on notice last month by Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, who told the House of Assembly that “the economics of the development must be recast”.
Both contractors said the project had been poorly managed and had run short of finance on a regular basis.
The Ritz-Carlton Caroline Bay hotel resort at Morgan’s Point was heralded as a bonanza for Bermudian firms at its groundbreaking in 2016.
But Parliament heard last month that developers had advised the Government in February 2018 of “significant financing issues” that jeopardised construction.
Work on the hotel phase was halted in March last year, but limited work continued on the site’s residential units.
The two contractors who spoke to The Royal Gazette said work at the site had been at a standstill since late last year.
One said that several residential units were unfinished and that metalwork was “at risk of rusting because of the salt air”.
He added: “I don’t think all the windows are in place. There was a lot of metal used in the interior.”
The second said: “Some of what’s there will have to be redone.”
The man continued: “Anything exposed to the elements, whether it’s foundation with rebar or the windows and doors and exterior items sitting with no service and maintenance. If it’s not being used, it will deteriorate.”
A third contractor said the site was “in varying stages of completion with some buildings with no roof and some metal studs exposed to the elements”.
He added: “A few of the units are fully complete and even furnished for show.
“And there is everything in between.”
The contractor said the site had “components that are just sitting there not being used, including electrical, plumbing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, doors and windows”.
He added: “With no use or maintenance happening, for sure product is deteriorating.”
Mr Dickinson highlighted Caroline Bay’s reliance on a guarantee from the Government “to the tune of $165 million” last month.
Caroline Bay’s board announced in June “an agreement which will provide the financing to continue construction”.
But Mr Dickinson told MPs that “a term sheet or draft terms of agreement do not represent irrevocable financing and should not be termed as such” and said the development needed to be “devised with a realistic view of the world economy”.
Neither Mr Duperreault nor a Caroline Bay spokesman responded to a request for comment yesterday.
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