Tallest Building in Philadelphia Has a Lien Problem
Philadelphia’s tallest building, the Comcast Technology Center, opened in late 2018. It was only recently learned, however, several mechanics liens were filed against the building for failure to pay construction contractors. The total value of mechanics liens filed against the Technology Center is estimated to be over $27 million. This includes $11 million in liens filed by SteelFab Inc. of Alabama and $1.4 million by electrical contractor Ray Angelini Inc.
These payment issues arise from the dispute between the property developer Liberty Property Trust and the general contractor L.F. Driscoll Co. Liberty is currently suing Driscoll for over $103.4 million, alleging Driscoll caused schedule delays resulting in the hotel on the property opening 2 years later than planned. Liberty also alleges Driscoll caused extensive cost overruns on the project due to mismanagement.
Liberty and Driscoll have a history of partnering for the construction of high-rise projects. Liberty alleges in its lawsuit that Driscoll mismanaged the Technology Center project because it was acquired by the Structure Tone Organization.
Everyone Loses Except the Mechanic Lien Filers
Mark Melchiori inherited Melchiori Construction Co, a prestigious Santa Barbara construction company, from his father Ugo Melchiori. The company’s stellar reputation resulted in being awarded a construction job for the famous Hollywood producer and director Robert Zemeckis. Melchiori failed to pay his subcontractors on the Zemeckis project, which resulted in several mechanic liens being filed against the property. Zemeckis was forced to pay the subcontractors himself to have the liens removed. This resulted in Zemeckis suffering over $1 million in loses.
Zemeckis filed a complaint with the Santa Barbara District Attorney against Melchiori to recover his losses which resulted in a criminal investigation into Melchiori and his company. The investigation found Melchiori was using his construction company to defraud many people out of millions of dollars, including Robert Zemeckis. The District Attorney filed criminal charges against Melchiori for his fraudulent activities which recently resulted in a prison sentence of over 9 years.
The judgement against Melchiori did not result in Zemeckis recovering the money he lost paying for Melchiori’s subcontractors’ work. However, the mechanic liens filed because of Melchiori’s non-payment did result in the subcontractors receiving the money they are owed. In the end, the only winners in this Zemeckis drama were the ones who filed mechanic liens.