California Mechanics Lien lllustration

With the country still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, contractors are being heavily affected even when working for the largest companies. 

As recent major liens in construction-heavy states like Florida and Texas have shown, even the largest corporations and most successful businesses are running into payment problems, with contractors having to resort to legal methods to get paid.

Urata & Sons Concrete, LLC, Rudolph & Sletten, Inc., and Microsoft Corporation: $4,733,846.48

Mountain View, California

A lien filed on May 19, 2021, shows the power that liens can have even on major corporations, as the Rancho Cordova-based Urata & Sons Concrete, LLC filed a $4,733,846.48 claim against a property owned by the Microsoft Corporation that the company claims was focused on “putting people at the center and re-imagining everything else.”

According to the filing, Urata & Sons is claiming nonpayment for concrete labor, materials, and equipment provided to general contractor Rudolph & Sletten, Inc. for work at Microsoft’s property located at 1065 La Avenida Street in Mountain View, California.

Urata & Sons is a provider of concrete slabs that uses specialized 3D laser technology to handle significant paving projects, while Rudolph & Sletten is a major general contractor and construction management company that has had experience “building everything from biotech laboratories and medical facilities to corporate campuses and educational institutions.”

The property in question is Microsoft’s Silicon Valley campus, which originally broke ground in 2017 and opened in summer 2020. The company noted at the time of its groundbreaking in December 2017 that the “new Silicon Valley Campus embodies this forward-looking mentality, and as a result will be [Microsoft’s] smartest, greenest office yet.”

The lien on the property is definitely something Microsoft will want to resolve. A January 2020 release from the company noted that the campus is a major part of the company’s expansion in California’s Bay Area, alongside a new office in Berkeley and multiple sites in San Francisco.

The campus’ design is focused on sustainability and was “designed to achieve net zero non-potable water certification under the Living Building Challenge” — making Microsoft the first technology company to achieve this certification.

Orr Builders and Avalon 1150 LLC: $1,754,736.66

Palm Springs, California

A May 26, 2021, lien claim by Orr Builders noted $1,754,736.66 in nonpayment on its work for Avalon 1150, LLC and its Miralon planned community.

The claim is focused on Avalon 1150’s Miralon Amenity Center, located at 4097 Avalon Way in Palm Springs. Avalon 1150 owns Miralon, a new master planned “amenity community” that is marketed as a community that features a large number of what it calls “resort-style” opportunities: “Where modern new homes in Palm Springs blend with parks, miles of trails, and olive groves in a prime desert location. New experiences are as simple as stepping outside. Whether it’s tranquil, artsy, eclectic, or organic, more or less everything is right where you want it.”

A video shared by Miralon in April 2020 noted that the center’s construction would be continuing despite the pandemic, and a December 2020 update noted that “The Miralon club is taking shape” and showed the amenity center apparently in a state of near-completion.

A.R. Mays Construction, Inc. and The Irvine Company, LLC: $1,255,643.07

Irvine, California

A claim filed by A.R. Mays Construction, Inc. focuses on the Irvine Company’s Regal Irvine Spectrum ScreenX, 4DX, IMAX, RPX & VIP movie theater, after the company served as the general contractor for a recent remodeling of the theater, claiming $1,255,643.07 in nonpayment.

A.R. Mays Construction notes in the filing that it last supplied materials and labor on the project on March 23, 2021. According to the Los Angeles Times, the theater had to shut down its operations in October 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic, despite having only recently opened at the time.

Prior reporting on upgrades has noted that the process includes a number of significant changes to turn a normal Regal theatre into one with more luxury amenities, including work to add “king-size recliners and padded footrests for moviegoers in an exclusive 21-plus environment.”

Though many large theatre companies experienced a major downturn in 2020 due to the beginning of the pandemic, a mini-box office revival is leading some companies to actually accelerate their construction and remodeling plans, as Regal did in Irvine. 

“The theater chains that go ‘all in’ by investing millions in upgrades, acquisitions and innovations are banking on the future of the big screen experience,” noted Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst for Comscore. “And right now that appears to be a good bet.”

The focus of many theater companies is the property itself, as many are hoping to profit from the market downturn of 2020 as changes come into view during 2021 and 2022. For example, AMC Theaters (a competitor to Regal) is making it a major priority to build up its slate of theaters, and 2020 saw a law rescinded that had previously banned movie studios from owning theatres.

“AMC is making the bet that they will be the primary theater owner monopolist,” said UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television lecturer Tom Nunan. ”‘You’re going to have to work through us if you want to get your hands on quality theaters.’”