March 6, 2017
Reporter's Notebook

Construction, legal woes delay Radisson Hotel apartments conversion

The conversion of Radisson Hotel’s upper floors to apartments has hit legal and constructions snafus.

A legal dispute between the owners of Hartford's Radisson Hotel and the contractor hired to do millions of dollars in work to convert the property's upper floors into apartments has delayed the project's completion date.

Radisson Hotel's owner, 50 Morgan Hospitality Group LLC, is spending nearly $6.5 million to convert the building's eight upper floors into 96 apartments, which will overlook Dunkin' Donuts Park.

The project, which received a two-year $6.5 million construction loan from the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA), was originally set to debut this spring, possibly in time for the Hartford Yard Goats' opening day, April 13.

In January, however, 50 Morgan Hospitality Group filed a lawsuit in Hartford Superior Court against a contractor it hired — and eventually fired — to oversee the apartments conversion, accusing Arizona-based Excel Hotel Services Inc. of breaching its $6 million contract. (The case has since been transferred to federal district court).

The hotel owner says Excel Hotel Services failed to adopt or follow the construction schedule and didn't provide sufficient manpower to hit key project deadlines and milestones, including required inspections.

Excel also failed to pay subcontractors or adequately document work it allegedly completed, the lawsuit states.

In addition, the state Department of Labor (DOL) issued three stop work orders on the project in January after discovering various subcontractors lacked Connecticut worker's compensation coverage and misclassified workers as independent contractors, according to Nancy Steffens, a DOL spokeswoman.

At least one stop work order remained in effect as of last week.

"From the outset of the project, Excel failed to progress the project with any diligence or professionalism," the lawsuit states.

50 Morgan Hospitality Group fired Excel Jan. 12 and filed its lawsuit Jan. 27, seeking to recoup more than $500,000 in damages it said it's owed as a result of the alleged contract breach.

Representatives from Excel Hotel Services and 50 Morgan Hospitality Group declined to comment on the suit. 50 Morgan Hospitality Group LLC is a business entity owned by Florida hospitality owner/operator Inner Circle, which took an ownership stake in the Radisson Hotel in 2013.

The developer has since brought in a new contractor to oversee the apartments conversion, according to a source familiar with the project, which now has a targeted summer completion date.

CRDA Executive Director Mike Freimuth said he is aware of the construction issues and is monitoring the situation closely.

If the project has any cost overruns, they will be borne by the developer, he said, adding that he expects the project to be ready sometime this summer.

– Greg Bordonaro

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