Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

$5.5 Million in Kiel Claims Tied Up in Court

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

$5.5 Million in Kiel Claims Tied Up in Court

Article excerpt

A court dispute over the final construction bill for Kiel Center has blossomed into $5.5 million in claims and counterclaims against contractors and the building's owners.

The new arena, its parking garage and related improvements cost $170 million and were opened in October 1994. Kiel Center Partners, the 19 large area companies that own Kiel Center and the Blues hockey team, invested $135 million of that, and the city of St. Louis provided the rest.

Kiel Center, at 14th and Clark streets just west of City Hall, is home to the Blues, the St. Louis University Billikens, St. Louis Ambush soccer team, St. Louis Stampede Arena football team and the St. Louis Vipers roller hockey team. It also is a site for concerts and other events. It replaced the Arena, at 5700 Oakland Avenue, and the old Kiel Auditorium, which was razed to make way for Kiel Center.

Since last summer, six companies that helped build Kiel Center have claimed in St. Louis Circuit Court that they are owed a total of $4.1 million for work in excess of their contract totals. Five of the six companies are electrical contractors or suppliers.

Last month, the prime contractor upped the ante. J.S. Alberici Construction Co. asked the circuit court to order Kiel Center Partners to pay Alberici $1.4 million - and any amount the court would order Alberici to pay the smaller companies.

Most of the disputes were filed in court as mechanics' liens, or claims against the property or leaseholder. In theory, a successful suit could force a sale of Kiel Center to settle debts. But the goal of the companies involved is to receive payment from Alberici or Kiel Center Partners.

It is not unusual for contracting companies involved in post-construction pay disputes to file mechanics' liens. But several lawyers involved in the Kiel Center case said the amount in dispute in this case is unusually high for a project of its size. …

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