The debate over who is to blame for dire construction defects at The Grand Apartments near Union Station — and who must therefore pay the eight-figure repair bills — has devolved into “a procedural morass” moseying toward a long trial, said one of 32 attorneys involved.
Shorenstein Properties, the California-based developer of that high-rise apartment building at 1777 Chestnut Place, sued The Grand’s general contractor, Saunders Construction of Englewood, last August. By then, The Grand had been entirely evacuated.
Shorenstein accused Saunders of shoddy work on the building, which was constructed between 2016 and 2018. Mocked online by tenants who called it “Denver’s wettest apartments,” The Grand suffered leaks and floods, widespread power outages, damaged drywall, peeling paint, falling glass debris and unsafe balconies that had to be removed.
Saunders has adamantly denied doing anything wrong and has countersued Shorenstein for money it is supposedly owed. It has also complicated the case in recent months.
In October, Saunders listed 10 companies that it said may deserve blame for The Grand’s issues. They include a sprinkler company in Aurora, a drywaller from Wichita, a wiring company out of Englewood, a sealant supplier in Texas and a Liechtensteinian hardware company.
One of those 10, a Denver company called RK Mechanical, then listed two other local companies that may deserve blame for The Grand’s problems. As a result, 14 companies are now parties in the case, represented by 32 lawyers from 11 law firms.
“This case is headed for a highly cumbersome trial that would involve multiple, tangentially involved parties; will not even commence until mid- to late 2024; and would play out over several weeks,” Shorenstein attorney David Hutchinson wrote April 14.
Hutchinson, with the Denver firm Otten Johnson Robinson Neff & Ragonetti, wants Denver District Court Judge Jill Dorancy to order two separate trials. The first, a two-week trial between Shorenstein and Saunders, would determine if the contractor is to blame. If so, another two- or three-week trial would determine if any subcontractors are also to blame.
Hutchinson said the other 13 parties to the case are all opposed to his idea. Attorneys for Saunders Construction did not respond to requests for comment about the case.
Meanwhile, Shorenstein “has spent tens of millions of dollars” on repairs at The Grand “with completion and re-opening still several months away,” Hutchinson wrote last week.
Shorenstein’s caseload has lightened somewhat in recent months with the resolution of tenant lawsuits. On April 5, the case of former resident Katherine McCormack was closed while the two sides completed settlement talks. McCormack sued Shorenstein last August, accusing it of ignoring construction defects at The Grand and saddling tenants with long leases.
On March 28, 10 of 11 former tenants who sued The Grand in Denver District Court dropped their lawsuit after reaching a settlement. The tenants were working without a lawyer after the one they hired, Ian Hicks, was suspended from practicing law for 30 months.