SoNo Collection developer accuses mall architect in $11 million lawsuit


The developer of the SoNo Collection mall in Norwalk accuses the architect of developing significant design flaws in the building that cost $11 million to repair, according to a lawsuit filed in state Superior Court.

Brookfield Properties claims several mistakes made by a Connecticut subsidiary of architectural firm CallisonRTKL, which has offices around the world and extensive experience with large commercial projects, including those in complex urban environments. The parties discussed a possible settlement, according to a court filing.

Brookfield says the design bill for the South Norwalk mall was more than $14 million, including amounts for subcontractors. Brookfield sued for the $11 million in repairs, as well as the costs of the lawsuit incurred. Spokespersons for Brookfield could not be immediately reached Thursday for further details of the settlement talks and its claim.

“CRTKL knew or should have known of the deficiencies,” Brookfield’s attorneys state in their original complaint.

In a formal court response and counterclaim for $1 million he says is still owed, CallisonRTKL denied liability while citing several legal doctrines he says protect him. In a filing in late May, the parties revealed they were in settlement talks ahead of legal proceedings in early August, ahead of a civil trial date scheduled for next year.

“CallisonRTKL has no comment on progress toward a settlement with Brookfield,” the company’s general counsel said in a statement. “With respect to the issues in the Complaint, CallisonRTKL’s position is set out in its pleadings filed with the Court. CallisonRTKL provided their services to the standard of care and delivered a beautiful, award-winning project to the owner. »

Brookfield alleges the defects included a faulty steel beam that cost $3 million to replace; and insufficient supports for brickwork in the mall’s parking lot to withstand strong gusts of wind, with the solution exceeding $1 million.

A mall elevator and stairway also had to be rebuilt to make the rally a success, Brookfield said, along with part of the roof and other structural elements. And the company says it had to dig in to install the necessary plumbing, according to designers at CallisonRTKL, who didn’t anticipate.

A New Jersey plumbing company sued its general contractors in US District Court in October 2019 after relying on what it claimed was a flawed CallisonRTKL plan to install plumbing at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie, NY Describing the plumbing design as ‘riddled with flaws’, a judge dismissed parts of the lawsuit last year, on the grounds that the plaintiff did not assert that the general contractors had control over the design plumbing.

The SoNo collection debuted in October 2019 with Nordstrom and less than 20 other stores opening initially, with more following through the holiday season and into the following year.

A very visible gap remains in its original lineup, along the street-level facade that greets customers turning onto West Avenue from Interstate 95. Along a planned row of restaurants, Yard House opened last year, but two other locations remain vacant.

In legal proceedings in 2020, Brookfield-controlled Norwalk Land Development won a court order to evict a restaurant project called Yong Kang Street Dumplings and Noodle House that never completed development of the West Avenue premises.

Brookfield took over construction of SoNo Collection through its acquisition of General Growth Properties in 2018, then sold its majority stake to other investors weeks after the mall opened for $304 million. Brookfield continues to manage mall operations, including leasing.

Brookfield has sued the city of Norwalk four times since 2018 over what it called “grossly excessive” assessments in lawsuits in state Superior Court, with those amounts determining property tax assessments on the property. mall. The city denied this characterization of its assessment in formal responses to the court.; 203-842-2545; @casoulman

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