On January 12, 2020, an arsonist set fire to two apartment buildings, then under construction, along Main Street in Bound Brook, New Jersey. Five contractors working on the project, still trying to collect money owed, filed mechanics lien claims on the property totaling $1.7 million.
A seven-alarm arson fire on January 12, 2020 partially destroyed two five-story apartment buildings under construction, along with two additional buildings. The apartment complex, known as Meridia Downtown, included 174 apartments and additional retail space.
A second, 63-unit apartment complex also under construction, known as Mosaic on Main, was also destroyed.
Since April 17, 2020, five different subcontractors have filed mechanics liens against the project’s general contractor, Meridia Construction Management, LLC, which is owned by Meridian Downtown Urban Renewal Bound Brook, LLC.
A mechanics lien is a legal claim for unpaid construction work that clouds a property’s real estate title, inhibiting the property’s sale or refinancing until the claim is paid. Each lien claim was processed with the Somerset County clerk’s office according to New Jersey’s mechanics lien requirements.
Five Contractors Owed $1.7M
The five subcontractors are allegedly owed a total of $1,706,957.62 for prior work on the Meridian Downtown apartments, located at 12-16 W. Main St., Bound Brook, NJ. The apartment complex was located nearly 27 miles southwest of downtown Newark, NJ.
According to the lien affidavits, the largest lien was filed by subcontractor Framing 360 Co., Inc. against Meridia Construction Management, LLC.
On April 17, 2020, the subcontractor filed their lien valued at $610,133.45, which accounts for 36% of the total funds allegedly withheld from the five contractors at the job site. The subcontractor’s lien affidavit states that the company provided structural wood framing and the installation of trusses to the project.
Ten days prior on April 7, subcontractor Kablan Plumbing & Heating Co. filed the second-largest lien against the GC at $460,504.
Another $400K lien was filed by Grubb Lumber Co., Inc. on April 2, 2020, against Meridian Downtown Urban Renewal Bound Brook, LLC. The subcontractor’s lien, valued at 404,859.93, marks the third-largest claim against the property.
Beacon Sales Acquisition, Inc. filed the fourth-largest lien at $158,143.19 on February 26, 2020. The subcontractor’s lien affidavit also lists the property owner as of the responsible party for payment. The smallest lien was valued at $72,617.05 from County Concrete Corp. on March 12, 2020.
On March 17, 2020, OSHA closed their investigation into Meridia Construction Management, LLC for their work at the Meridian Downtown apartments. According to an OSHA inspection report that began on August 30, 2019, the GC experienced at least one safety violation that totaled $15,114 in penalties.
$52M in Damages from Apartment Complex Arson Fire
The fire was estimated to have caused $52 million in damages to the Bound Brook downtown area. Both the Meridia Downtown and the Mosaic on Main apartment complexes are both being rebuilt.
In response to the arson, a Bound Brook committee passed an ordinance in March that requires developers in the city to pay for increased security measures on job sites, including 24-hour monitoring.
NJ.com has also reported that developers looking to build in Bound Brook will now be required to pay for increased security measures. Reportedly, the new ordinance has already been added to Bound Brook’s construction code.
Developers in Bound Brook must now include 360-degree motion detectors and video surveillance on their properties. Additionally, the new ordinance requires an on-site physical security guard once flammable materials on the property.