Building owner sues construction companies, architect over lost liquor control board lease

Posted: 3:56 PM EDT Mar 27, 2013

A building owner is suing two construction companies and an architect for design flaws that caused the state liquor control board office in Lehigh County to break its lease and find another home.

Burksh, of 2906 William Penn Highway, Palmer Twp., Northampton Co.,  filed a civil suit Tuesday in Northampton County Court against North Star Construction Management, Upper Macungie Twp. , Lehigh Co.; D.P. Construction, of Easton,   and Kleckner Lauchs Artictects, of Shillington, Berks Co.

Burksh said in its suit that North Star was negligent in constructing a building between 2007 and 2008 at 7448 Industrial Parkway, Macungie, Lehigh Co.,  that would be used by the Allentown bureau of the Liquor Control Enforcement.

North Star hired Kleckner to design the building and D.P. Construction to do the masonry work, according to the suit.

Because of "improper installation of flexible duct work" and other construction deficiencies, Burksh lost out on at least $1.475 million in rent and had to spend "a substantial sum" to rid the building of mold, according to the suit.

The LCE was forced out of the building in late 2011, about halfway into a 10-year lease, because of "severe moisture, mildew and mold issues" that had sickened several LCE employees, according to the suit.

After months of study, environmental specialists began in December 2011 to remove the mold, which required the removal of "large portions" of walls, flooring and ceiling, according to the suit.

Burksh said in the suit that it also hired an architect, who determined water was leaking into the exterior masonry walls because of "improper design and construction."

The LCE stopped paying rent in November 2011, and in an effort to keep the LCE as a tenant while the building was being rehabilitated, Burksh provided temporary trailers, with utilities, wiring and security, at the site, according to the suit.

Burksh wasn't able to make the building habitable quickly enough, so the LCE ended the lease in last September, and relocated to 8320 Schantz Rd., Breinigsville, Lehigh Co., about five miles away, according to the suit.

The lease for the LCE office was set to end on Sept. 30, 2016, and had two five-year renewal options, the suit says, noting that the monthly rent of more than $25,000 would increase substantially if the lease was renewed.

North Star breached its contract with Burksh and that North Star, Kleckner and D.P. Construction were negligent by not making sure that adequate vapor and water barriers, flashings, weep holes, mortar joints, gutters and roof gravel stops were installed, according to the suit.

Burksh is asking for damages in excess of $50,000 in the suit. reached out to North Star, D.P. Construction and Kleckner for comment on the suit.

A woman at North Star's office said the person who could comment was out of the office until next week.

A partner in D.P. Construction, Danielle Mancino, said her company's lawyer and Burksh's lawyers "have been going back and forth for about a year," adding, D.P. did the exterior walls "and the water that got into the building was coming from the roof. I'm pretty confident we're not involved."

A call to Kleckner's office went unanswered.