Contractor Claims Costly Delays and Inadequate Plans for Sonia Sotomayor Community School

The Justice Sonia Sotomayor Community School construction hit a snag with the contractor alleging costly delays caused by city officials. This issue led to the contractor, Piazza Inc., to demand an additional $7.5 million to compensate for extra work required to complete the project. The complaint was filed in Westchester Supreme Court on September 28, 2023.

The Justice Sonia Sotomayor Community School is a highly anticipated addition. It marks the first new school construction in the city in two decades. Set to open next year, the design serves about 675 students ranging from pre-k to 8th grade. The $80 million project sits on the former St. Denis Catholic School site at McLean Avenue and Lawrence Street.

Piazza Inc., a Hawthorne-based contractor, won the $36.2 million general construction contract for the ambitious school project. The Yonkers Joint Schools Construction Board is managing the project and at the center of this dispute.

The complaint

The complaint claims that the construction board provided plans that were “incapable of being built as originally drawn.” Furthermore, they argue that both the construction board and Kaeyer, Garment & Davidson Architects P.C. interfered with their work.

Piazza Inc. claims they received instructions to start work in February 2022 and complete the project by August 2023. However, problems during the demolition phase limited their access to the site. For instance, an adjacent apartment building sustained damage during excavation, necessitating support pile installations where Piazza was scheduled to construct a building.

Complicating matters further, the architect instructed Piazza to alter their sequencing, beginning with the adjacent community building instead of the school. Delays continued as KG&D had to redesign the foundation in April 2022. And then reversed their earlier instruction and requested construction begin on the school first, as originally planned. Piazza then only gained full access to the site on May 23, 2022.

The project subsequently fell four months behind schedule.

Piazza Inc. argues that the delays, disruptions, and inadequate plans have driven up their costs, necessitating additional work to complete the project. They accuse the construction board of breach of contract and unjust enrichment, asserting that they received the benefits of Piazza’s work without full payment. Additionally, they have accused KG&D of tortious interference with a contract for failing to provide adequate plans and specifications.

As the legal battle unfolds, it remains to be seen how these allegations will impact the completion of this much-needed new school in Yonkers.

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