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Langley condo developer finishes building 13 months behind schedule

Willoughby-based Newmark has had a number of problems over the past year.

A Langley condo development delayed for more than a year will finally be finished soon after its developer suffered a turbulent year that saw it repeatedly taken to civil court for lack of payment.

The 92-unit Murrayville House project left buyers waiting up to 13 months longer than expected for homes.

One buyer, who asked that his name not be used, said he was told the initial move-in date would be February of 2016.

“They said that was maybe a bit optimistic, but that was the plan,” he said.

Since then, he has had to sign new contracts sent out every four months as the completion date has been repeatedly rolledback.

“No explanation whatsoever,” he said.

Notices recently went out to owners saying the project would be ready for April or May, and that final Township inspections were underway. The condo owner is confident that the almost-finished building will eventually be ready to move into.

According to Newmark director of operations Jame Cronk, the building is expected to be finished by sometime in May, and a letter was sent to owners April 28 letting them know that occupancy inspection and move in were set to begin soon.

“We’ve been challenged with lots of things,” Cronk said.

Newmark bought the Murrayville project from another developer that went bankrupt, Cronk said.

“The original date was never going to be achieved,” he said. Between construction delays and weather, and a slowdown due to the change of ownership, the pace of construction slowed.

“People have been very patient,” Cronk said. “No doubt, some are very frustrated.”

Newmark suffered a series of issues over the past year. They included:

• A number of small-claims lawsuits from contractors, all alleging that Newmark had not paid them, or not paid them fully, for various jobs. That also led to Newmark becoming the target of irate individuals on social media, who lambasted the company for months.

• A lawsuit over $53,000 in alleged unpaid work by AHA Creative Strategies, which did work promoting Murrayville House and the Sagebrush golf course project Newmark was developing near Merritt. Newmark has counter-claimed that it was overbilled; the case has not yet been tested in court.

• A lawsuit by the U.S. National Bank Association claiming Newmark had not paid $300,000 on a corporate credit card.

Most seriously from a financial point of view, Nemwark was taken to court by two lenders over the mortgages on land where it planned to build condos and townhouses at the corner of 208th Street and 80th Avenue. The lenders began foreclosure proceedings against Newmark after both alleged payments had stopped. One was owed more than $11 million and the other more than $5 million.

The matter was resolved by a court-ordered sale of the mortgaged land to pay off the debt. At one point, one of the lenders claimed in court that Newmark owner Mark Chandler was avoiding service of court documents, and the court granted the ability to serve documents to anyone at Newmark’s Langley office.

Cronk said the credit card lawsuit would be addressed as well, and that the firm had new lenders.

The financial issues with contractors, which went back as far as late 2014 in a few cases, typically ended with Newmark paying the contractors just before the case landed in court.

Most of the cases were for less than $5,000.

Cronk said that disputes with contractors are typical for the industry, and also put some of the blame on issues with Newmark’s accounting department, which was reorganized late last year.

“I’m not suggesting that we’ve never had some problems with timely payment, but they’ve been addressed,” Cronk said.

He said there were inadequacies, but said other issues involved false claims, and they have been dealt with as well.

“We’ve been going through a company reset,” he said.

Despite the company’s recent issues, they now plan to move forward on several projects.

Cronk said he expects that Newmark will still build condos on the portion of lands it retains at 208th Street and 80th Avenue, and another project is slated for a lot near the Willoughby Town Centre.

In the near future, the company is expected to take designs for its Willoughby projects to the Township and public, and Cronk said it has other land near Carvolth it is planning for in the longer term.

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Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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