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Delayed office building nearly done; litigation lingers

John HartThe Grass Valley Community Service Center is seen from East Main Street in Grass Valley.
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A Hughes Road office building that court records show was plagued by delays and mounting costs is in the final stretch of completion.

The first tenants, FREED and the Alta California Regional Center, could move into the first floor of the Grass Valley Community Service Center within two weeks, said Duke Dudash, general contractor on the project and owner of Blue Sky Builders, a Grass Valley company.



More work will remain to be done on the building and grounds at 150 Hughes Road, but Dudash said he expects to have a temporary occupancy permit to allow tenants to move in.




In a month, the second floor should be finished and ready for tenants. The third floor should be finished in six weeks, Dudash said.

The building’s office space is 85 percent leased, with negotiations under way for the remainder.

The local United Way chapter bowed out after delays in finishing the project. United Way of Nevada County moved into a 1,300-square-foot office at 140 Litton Drive, at the corner of Litton Drive and Sierra College Drive, two weeks ago..

Executive Director Jan Bray said the agency held off as long as it could but needed a new office, and the service center had a few too many delays. Initially, the building was going to be done in late summer of 2001, Bray said.

Work on the three-story, 23,000-square-foot center began in November 2000. The building faced the typical problems of any construction project such as weather. It also had a few unique challenges.

The building is very complex with multiple angles – eight angles across the back, compared with two angles on a plain, square building.

“It’s not something you just nail up,” said Mike Edmondson, office manager for A.E.S.V., the building’s architectural firm.

Given that, 14-15 months to finish the building is not out of line, Edmondson said.

The Hughes Road project also changed general contractors, which caused a two month delay, Edmondson said.

Dudash said he had to line up new subcontractors once he became general contractor in September. About 90 percent of the new subcontractors are from the area, Dudash said.

“That’s when all the local guys rallied in,” Dudash said.

The original contractor, J.L. Bray & Son Inc., of Salida, filed suit in September in Nevada County Superior Court. Dudash declined comment on the suit.

Bray claimed the building’s owners, the Grass Valley Community Services Center LLC partnership, Charles and Karen Fleming, and others, owed it $1.5 million on the project after Bray’s contract was terminated Aug. 31, 2001, according to court records.

David Frank, an Auburn attorney representing the defendants, questioned whether the $1.5 million is owed. He claimed it does not appear Bray sent out a preliminary lien notice, required by law to establish a mechanic’s lien.

The managing member of the partnership, Country Club Office Park Corp., countersued and disputed Bray’s billing. The firm claimed that Bray caused delays and his construction methods led to more than $950,000 in increased costs, according to court records. It was first estimated that it would cost $3 million to complete the building’s shell. The final cost has not been determined yet.

Frank said the contract with Bray was terminated because the project was far behind schedule and extremely over budget. The building was at least three to four months behind schedule in September 2001 when it was supposed to be finished, with another three to four months of work remaining to completion, Frank said.

Attorney Mark Berry of Stockton, representing J.L. Bray & Son, Inc., declined comment Thursday but said he was confident his client would prevail.


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