Five companies have filed suits against Kamilos’ projects during the past two years, totaling about $2.2 million. Of that, $884,685 is related to the PCCP West Park project in Crows Landing, court records reveal.
In addition, Kamilos has committed to paying $302,000 for a partially paid $250,000 loan for West Park to compensate for interest acquired on the loan.
Attorneys for those contractors and statements in court documents indicated that Kamilos was working with all them to resolve those issues. The developer said this week he was confident he will have the funding in place to move the Crows Landing project forward.
“We’re looking at a plan that will provide the county with assurances that we could finance the (California Environmental Quality Act) process,” Kamilos said, adding that he planned to describe the plan during a June 17 presentation to the board.
County supervisors will consider at that time whether they want to grant Kamilos a six-month extension to complete environmental studies for West Park. They gave him a 15-month extension in March 2011.
Debts to pay
TranSystems sued PCCP West Park for $264,729 in June 2010, while HDR Engineering sued for $279,069 in December 2011. Both also sought interest and attorneys fees.
Attorneys for TransSystems declared in court filings that Kamilos had not paid his fair share of arbitration costs. However, an attorney who did not wish to be named said last week that the matter appeared to be settled and an arbitration process was moving forward.
Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Timothy Salter determined in April that Kamilos owed HDR Engineering $354,018, including interest and fees.
The law firm Remy, Thomas, Moose & Manley also is slated to receive $303,897 for work done on behalf of West Park, after initially seeking $268,725 plus attorneys fees and interest, according to documents filed May 17 in Sacramento County.
That law firm successfully defended West Park from a lawsuit filed by the city of Patterson regarding the county’s selection of a master developer and project description before an environmental impact report was completed.
Teichert Construction filed a suit for $1.2 million regarding uncompensated infrastructure work done for Kamilos in the developing community of Mountain House, northwest of Tracy.
Remy, Thomas, Moose & Manley and Teichert both settled with Kamilos. However, there was a mix-up in paying off the settlement debt to the legal firm when a check from Kamilos was placed on hold, court documents revealed.
“At this point, he is current on his payments, and I hope it stays that way,” said Daniel Frankston, a lawyer representing Remy, Thomas, Moose & Manley.
In addition, Whitney Environmental Consulting alleged damages of $50,746 and $44,695 in June 2011 for breaches of contract from 2004 to 2006 connected with the Mariposa Lakes development near Stockton.
Whitney Environmental gave up its case against the developer less than a month after filing its suit after working out a payment plan with Kamilos without court intervention.
Questions of trust
Stanislaus County Supervisor Jim DeMartini, who has consistently opposed Kamilos’ West Park proposal, said last week that he had been aware of the lawsuits for some time.
“I found this stuff out just from the easy search of a computer, and I’m not computer literate,” DeMartini said. “I type with one finger.”
He said the county failed to hold Kamilos to the same standards as developers of other projects, such as the county animal shelter, in terms of pre-qualifications.
“It’s like the county is whitewashing this stuff. With all these problems Kamilos has got, they just look the other way,” DeMartini said. “Who knows what other people are out there that are owed money but haven’t taken him to court.”
Representatives from at least two other contractors that have worked on the West Park project indicated last week that Kamilos owed them money, but both thought he would repay them eventually.
Chris Kinzel of Pleasanton-based TJKM, which worked on a transportation study for West Park, said the company expected to be up to date soon on payments received from Kamilos. He said the delay in payments resulted from the downturn in the economy and the bankruptcy of West Park financer Lehman Bros., which was outside of Kamilos’ control.
“I think the fact that he’s hung in there and is honoring his obligations for refinancing — we’re feeling good about how things are going to be in the future in that area,” Kinzel said.
Chris Vierra, the managing principal for the Modesto office of Stantec, described Kamilos as trustworthy, though he owed an unspecified amount on the Mariposa Lakes project.
Stantec has worked on West Park’s utilities master plan. The company has also worked with Kamilos on Sacramento’s undeveloped Metro Air Park industrial project and the community of Mountain House, Vierra said. He added that Kamilos has always paid his bills.
“We understand the economy is difficult right now, so we have not taken the route that other consultants have,” Vierra said.
Stanislaus County Supervisor Dick Monteith, who has been an advocate for West Park, said he trusted that the developer would move the project forward.
He noted that Modesto’s Gallo Center for the Arts also faced billing problems before it reached fruition, and he said he admired Kamilos’ creativity and foresight regarding the West Park concept.
That vision entails creating a 2,800-acre industrial center, including a solar-energy collection area and an inland rail hub for the Port of Oakland.
Monteith said Kamilos was working diligently on the project, despite lawsuits and economic challenges and with no guarantee that the county would approve the final project.
“I feel comfortable at this time that he’s going to be able to work some of these things out,” Monteith said.
Kamilos said six months was a reasonable amount of time to complete the remaining state-mandated environmental quality studies, as similar studies were completed a few years ago when he had a much larger vision for the project.
“A lot of the foundation work has already been done in those original studies,” Kamilos said last week.
At the time, Kamilos planned to build on 4,800 acres in and around the former airbase and route six trains per day through the area, rather than two trains expected in the latest plans. His plans were scaled down in the past year, following the city of Patterson’s lawsuit and the project’s financial challenges.
Union Pacific Railroad recently conducted rail studies for the project, and the fiscal model of West Park has been updated, Kamilos said.
While DeMartini contended that Kamilos had repeatedly failed to meet county timelines, Monteith defended the project as a massive and complicated undertaking, particularly in a dire economy. As a result, he claimed that Kamilos’ request for another six-month extension was understandable.
“I think this is bigger than most people are grasping,” Monteith said.
• Contact Jonathan Partridge at 892-6187, ext. 26, or email@example.com.