Angry creditors came after Klewin Building Company last week, filing two civil actions against the company and its many divisions across the country. Will the company that gave disgraced former Gov. John Rowland a cushy job be able to finish projects like the much-celebrated Trumbull Centre Apartments in Hartford?
Last week was a bad one for Klewin Building Company, and the firm’s troubles could spell problems for the Trumbull Centre Apartments in downtown Hartford.Klewin, based in Norwich, has built high-profile structures like Foxwoods Resort Casino, along with hospitals and parking garages like the Morgan Street Garage in Hartford. Signs of trouble first surfaced when Klewin hired John G. Rowland, raising concerns about potential violations of state revolving door ethics laws. As a $5,000 a month consultant, Rowland called UConn and asked it to stop pressuring Klewin in a contracting dispute. A state judge refused to sign a warrant for Rowland’s arrest. A state legislative committee subpoenaed Klewin officials to testify on the matter, and the construction firm has fought to have those orders quashed. Now Klewin’s legal troubles have compounded, according to allegations in lawsuits filed against Klewin both in U.S. District Court and Hartford Superior Court last week.United States Fidelity and Guaranty Company- which provides construction bonds- sued Klewin and 11 of its affiliates in federal court, including Klewin Gaming and Hospitality, Inc. USF&G alleges that Klewin is financially unsound and said it has more than 50 payment bond claims from subcontractors or vendors stewing over Klewin to the tune of $2.7 million. The claims originate with Klewin’s highest profile contracts. Klewin.com showcases the Trumbull Centre Apartments, a 272,000 square foot edifice in downtown Hartford. USF&G claims that’s one of the nine projects on which Klewin has stiffed vendors.In the lawsuit, USF&G alleges Klewin “have advised [USF&G] that they lack the financial resources to complete the bonded contracts for the Trumbull Centre Apartments and Woodland Senior Housing Projects.“The Woodlands, a senior housing complex in Ardsley, NY, is a $32 million project that was supposed to be finished in March 2005. The USF&G lawsuit lists other projects visible on Klewin website like the Florida Atlantic University library, and the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport. The Klewin company website boasts that the firm possesses unlimited bonding capacity because of the hundreds of projects it has completed. USF&G demands in its complaint that Klewin compensate it for all past and future losses incurred from the bonds.Over in Hartford Superior Court, United Steel claims Klewin and two of its affiliates owe it more than $88,000 in unpaid work orders related to a 2001 contract at Fairfield University. United Steel claims it lived up to its end of the $115,000 contract in providing labor and materials for additions and alterations to the Fairfield College Preparatory School.But Klewin, more specifically its E&F/Walsh division, it seems, never paid the balance. No one involved in either case returned calls for comment. Representatives from Klewin Building Company, including CEO Michael D’Amato, and directors Tyler Klewin and Kyle Klewin, did not return multiple phone calls, nor did their attorneys Richard Zeisler of Zeisler and Zeisler, or Eliot Gersten of Gersten and Clifford.Attorneys for the plaintiffs – Matthew Horowitz for USF&G and Gregory K. Holness for United Steel – chose not to return calls for comment, either.Already reeling from state-issued subpoenas over its relationship with Rowland, these lawsuits question the fiscal stability of a company that promotes itself as being “recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in America.” Klewin also brags on its web site that it is “one of the Top 50 construction management firms in the country based on annual construction volume.“But in its structural chart on the website, two of its three listed senior vice presidents, Keith Kabeary and Steve Walsh, no longer work for the company.