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A contractor abandoned Fayetteville parks projects worth millions. What is happening now?

A contractor who left millions of dollars in unfinished park construction projects in Fayetteville appears to have secured himself, while a lawsuit is pending, city records show.

Mohammad Construction LLC, which changed its name to Apex Contracting Group last month, was awarded several million-dollar contracts with the city in 2022 and 2023.

Attempts to reach Mohammad Construction LLC and its owner, Mohammad Mohammad, through numbers and emails listed with the city and the North Carolina Secretary of State were unsuccessful Monday.

The projects and awards were: $1.2 million to build 1.2 miles of sidewalk on Rosehill Road, from Country Club Drive to Shaw Mills Road, in June 2022; $3.84 million for work on the Mazarick Park tennis center site in June 2022; $1.34 million for courts at Mazarick Park Tennis Center in February 2023; and $1.46 million for Mable C. Smith Park projects that included parking lot expansion, a new splash pad, playground renovation and walking path improvements in February 2023.

On May 14, city spokesperson Loren Bymer said construction of Mable Smith Park and work on the Mazarick Park tennis court site “had stopped due to abandonment by the ‘entrepreneur’ of projects.

The city announced in July 2023 that Mohammad Construction had been removed from the Rosehill Road sidewalk project due to a lack of progress.

A contractor has stopped building a 1.2-mile sidewalk between the Food Lion on Rosehill Road and Shaw Mill Road.  It stops after a half mile at Rutledge Drive, opposite Trinity Christian School.A contractor has stopped building a 1.2-mile sidewalk between the Food Lion on Rosehill Road and Shaw Mill Road.  It stops after a half mile at Rutledge Drive, opposite Trinity Christian School.

A contractor has stopped building a 1.2-mile sidewalk between the Food Lion on Rosehill Road and Shaw Mill Road. It stops after a half mile at Rutledge Drive, opposite Trinity Christian School.

How much was paid?

In an emailed statement Thursday, Bymer said legal action was underway for the unfinished projects and the city was seeking bids to find a new contractor to complete the work.

“Currently, there is enough money left in the budget for each project to see it through to completion,” Bymer said. “In the event that more money is needed, the City will then approach the bonding company for each project. »

If the new contractor can keep the project within budget, he said, “there will be no reason to involve the bonding company.”

“There should be no additional cost to taxpayers as long as the projects stay within budget or in the event we involve the bonding company,” he said. “The only thing it cost residents was time. »

The tennis center contracts and the Mable C. Smith contract were awarded before Mohammad Construction “did away from the city,” he said.

City records provided to the Fayetteville Observer show the last invoice date Mohammad Construction sent to the city was September 26, 2023.

Last month, Bymer said the former Mohammad Construction received more than $3.67 million for work on the tennis site; more than $1.21 million for the construction of the tennis court; and more than $645,500 for Mable C. Smith Park.

Even though the work was not completed, the funds paid were for services rendered and work completed, he said.

“The city of Fayetteville only pays contractors for work performed to standard,” Bymer said.

A construction project at Mabel C. Smith Park on Shadbush Lane remains unfinished.A construction project at Mabel C. Smith Park on Shadbush Lane remains unfinished.

A construction project at Mabel C. Smith Park on Shadbush Lane remains unfinished.

What work was carried out?

Former city spokesperson Devon Smith told the Fayetteville Observer in September 2023 that the Rosehill Road project was only 30% complete by Mohammad Construction.

City records show work on the Mable C. Smith Park splash pad and playground was completed in February 2023.

Records from January 2024 also show that the last task Mohammad Construction completed for Mable C. Smith Park was to request a structural inspection.

At a council work session Monday, Rob Stone, the city’s director of construction management, said the remaining work at Mable C. Smith Park is about a 50 percent completed building.

“The big concern was some issues we saw internally. They had deficiencies in place that couldn’t pass inspections…” Stone said. “It’s just little things they need to fix.”

Stone said there is about $700,000 left in the contract and he expects the project to be rebid within 30 days and completed in 4 to 6 months.

City records show lighting work on the Mazarick Park tennis court was completed by January 2024 and the tennis center overhaul was underway. In July 2023, the building’s completion date was extended due to the design change to a metal building.

Records posted on the agenda for Monday’s city council work session show that design work on the tennis center has been completed, but construction work on the tennis center will be subject to further review. offer.

Stone told council members that officials are working to combine what’s left for work on the tennis venue and tennis courts into one contract.

He said officials were determining what work had been done and what remained to be done.

He estimated that about 75 percent of the work was complete for the site works and about 20 percent was complete for the courts.

There is about $715,000 left for those contracts, which Stone said he plans to re-bid in 2 to 3 weeks.

Parks and Recreation Director Michael Gibson said he doesn’t expect the city to add more money for what’s left.

How are entrepreneurs chosen?

Bymer said contractors bidding on city projects are vetted during the request for proposals and request for qualifications process, which city officials evaluate by asking several questions of other cities that contractors cite as references. note

Questions include:

• Has the city already done business with the contractor?

• How many projects have been carried out with the contractor?

• What types of projects have been carried out with the contractor?

• What was the duration of the projects?

• Have change orders been issued or has the project duration been extended?

• Was the work completed on time and within budget?

• Would you do business with the contractor again?

• Did you have any security issues with the contractor?

Former parks vice president: Fayetteville paid millions to contractor, but projects aren’t finished

Obligations

Documents provided to the Fayetteville Observer show the Rose Hill Road sidewalk project bond for Mohammad Construction was executed in June 2022 with California-based Wings of Eagle Fund 1 LLC, represented by Ronald Batiste.

Batiste could not be reached for comment Thursday and a voicemail associated with his number was full.

The contract also stated that the project would be a joint venture with Eagle Environmental & Construction Inc., which shares the same address at 1485 Bayshore Blvd., Suite 374 in San Francisco under the name Wings of Eagle Fund 1 LLC.

Documents filed with the North Carolina Secretary of State also show that Wings of Eagle Funds 1 shares the same North Carolina office with Mohammad Mohammad at 5109 Hollyridge Drive, Suite 102 in Raleigh.

Records show the Mable C. Smith Park Recreation Center project awarded to Mohammad Construction was bonded in March 2023 by New Life Fidelity Inc.

Documents filed with the North Carolina Secretary of State show Mohammad Mohammad also owns New Life Fidelity Inc. and his address at 3919 Beryl Road in Raleigh is the site of a post office.

Mohammad Mohammad also provided the performance guarantee for the Mazarick Park tennis court project through New Life Fidelty LLC in March 2023.

Can entrepreneurs guarantee themselves?

Bymer said contractors can’t tie themselves to Fayetteville.

An assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Government said state law requires performance and payment bonds when contracts for a public works project exceed $300,000.

The law requires performance and payment bonds “to be signed by one or more surety companies legally licensed to do business in the state of North Carolina,” said Crista M. Cuccaro, assistant professor of public law. and government at the School of Government. .

“Given the purpose of a bond, it would seem counterintuitive (and highly unlikely) for a construction company to stand as guarantor for a bond,” Cuccaro said.

Other bidders

According to city records, other bidders for projects awarded to Mohammad Mohammad Construction were:

• Cooper Tacia General Contracting Co. bid $3.84 million for the Mazarick Park Tennis Center site work project and was bonded with Gray Insurance Co.

• Lanier Construction Co. bid $1.95 million for the Rosehill Road sidewalk project and was bonded by Liberty Mutual Surety and The Ohio Casualty Insurance Co.

• Msquare Construction Inc. bid $1.73 million for the Mable C. Smith project and was bonded by American Alternative Insurance Corp.

• WB Brawley Co. bid $2.25 million for the Mable C. Smith Park project and was bonded by Travelers Casualty and Surety Co. of America.

Editor Rachael Riley can be reached at rriley@fayobserver.com or 910-486-3528.

This article originally appeared on The Fayetteville Observer: Update on contractor who left Fayetteville projects incomplete

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