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Alma del Pueblo Contractor Faces Second Lawsuit

Another breach of contract lawsuit has been filed in Santa Barbara Superior Court against San Francisco-based Build Group, lead contractor on the Alma del Pueblo mixed use project. Plumbing and mechanical subcontractor AMPAM Parks Mechanical out of Wilmington is alleging that Build Group owes them approximately $160,000 in unpaid labor and materials. Their original contract was for $1.2 million, and the lawsuit was filed October 9. Attorneys for both sides haven’t returned requests for comment.

Santa Barbara’s Katz-Moses & Calles Construction sued Build Group in August on similar grounds, alleging the lead contractor shorted them more than $55,000. That case has yet to be resolved.

County records show a number of unpaid project subcontractors had filed liens against the Alma Del Pueblo property and its 37 condominiums after construction was completed last spring. Build Group, contractually obligated to protect Alma del Pueblo development company Victoria Street Partners from such filings and related lawsuits, has since purchased bonds around the liens at a rate of one-and-a-half times the amount in dispute. Any monetary judgements are then collected against those bonds.

According to sources close to the issue, Build Group has also back-charged many of its subcontractors, claiming their work was incomplete or not up to snuff. Those same sources allege Build Group overextended itself with its first venture into the Santa Barbara market, grossly mismanaged the project, and is attempting to salvage lost revenue by unfairly back-charging and withholding payments.

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