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Developer Being Sued for $60M Has Received Millions in RI Tax Credits

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Photo is from a MA Brady Sullivan project showing mold damage

The controversial developer Brady Sullivan that operates six major apartment complexes in RI and is being sued for $60 million for allegedly adversely impacting the health of one of its tenants has received millions in Rhode Island tax credits according to a GoLocal review. Over the past few years, Brady Sullivan has faced numerous enforcement actions and lawsuits in Massachusetts and New Hampshire tied to environmental issues.

A series of reports by GoLocal over the past few years have unveiled allegations of poor workmanship in Brady Sullivan properties both in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Brady Sullivan operates six large converted mill loft apartment complexes in Rhode Island. The company has received tens of millions in taxpayer subsidies through the Rhode Island historic tax credit program.

The apartment complex that is the site of the $60 million lawsuit, the Harris Mill Lofts in Coventry, Rhode Island, has received $3.8 million in tax subsidies. The overall project cost was $15.2 million, according to state records.

According to the complaint, “Approximately two months after moving into the apartment [at the Harris Mill Lofts in Coventry], Jeffrey Mastrobuono began to feel ill. He experienced severe breathing difficulties as well as chronic pneumonia and sinus infections. Plaintiff’s mother, who spent countless hours at the apartment, has also experienced problems such as nosebleeds and severe rashes, both of which required medical attention,” states the lawsuit. The lawsuit claims the health long-term health damage was caused by mold contamination.

Artin Coloian, an attorney in the suit against Brady Sullivan, says the contamination in Coventry demonstrates a «clear pattern of conduct.»

The millions Brady Sullivan received for the Harris Mill Lofts is just a fraction of the subsidies the company has received from the Rhode Island tax credit program.

In addition, Brady Sullivan’s most recent project — the American Tourister mill rehab in Warren, RI — is slated to receive $10 million in historic tax credits according to state documents.

The program has provided 293 projects over $1.66 billion in taxpayer subsidies over the past 15 years according to documents from the Historic Preservation and Heritage Commission, the state agency that oversees the historic tax credit program.

The $1.66 billion created less than 4,400 new apartment units at a cost of $378,000 per unit. The program also has produced 910 low-income housing units.

Presently another $111 million is dedicated to another 44 projects.

Law Suit Links the Health Issues to Environment

According to the lawsuit, «Blood tests also showed that the antibodies for proteins found in various mold and pigeon droppings that were present in the blood of the Plaintiff were a result of breathing in airborne mold fungi spores as well as, but not limited to, bird droppings, feces, spores and fungi. Patient’s tests additionally indicated that there were other mold pathogens resulting from rotting wood mold.»

The suit goes on to allege, “Plaintiff does not now, nor has he ever, owned or lived with any birds. On or about April 25th, 2017 Plaintiff hired a hardwood specialist to come in and evaluate the damage in the home. The specialist removed the plywood that had been screwed down in his spare bedroom closet that abuts his neighbor’s bedroom where Defendant removed the hardwood so as to cover the mold and water deteriorated saturated sub-floor, joists, and saturated concrete. Upon removing the plywood, the hardwood specialist found enormous areas of fruiting mold, wet and deteriorating wood and floor joists, and large amounts of water and moisture.”

The suit claims a hazmat suit environmental response cleaned up the apartment.

As GoLocal Reported on Saturday:

A lawsuit filed in Rhode Island Superior Court alleges that one of the largest developers in the state has failed to take proper care of its property and refused to respond to repeated complaints about the conditions at one of their apartment buildings. The suit, moreover, claims the environmental conditions have made Jeffrey Mastrobuono terribly ill.

The suit is asking for a total of $60 million in damages —  $10 million in compensatory damages and $50 million of punitive damages.

Harris Mill Lofts Complaint

According to the complaint, “Approximately two months after moving into the apartment [at the Harris Mill Lofts in Coventry], Mastrobuono began to feel ill. He experienced severe breathing difficulties as well as chronic pneumonia and sinus infections. Plaintiff’s mother, who spent countless hours at the apartment, has also experienced problems such as nosebleeds and severe rashes, both of which required medical attention,” states the lawsuit.

“As a result of his illnesses, Mastrobuono was required to seek medical attention on approximately fifty (50) different occasions during his tenancy at the apartment due to chronic pneumonia and chronic sinus infections. During the winter of 2017, He was diagnosed with irreversible and incurable interstitial lung disease as a result of the chronic pneumonia and hypersensitivity pneumonitis which he suffered due to extended exposure to airborne mold toxins. Plaintiff ultimately lost his job and was unable to find further gainful employment due to the airborne mold pathogens found in Plaintiff’s blood and resulting illnesses,” states the complaint against Brady Sullivan.

Brady Sullivan’s attorney refused to comment for the story.

One of the attorneys for Mastrobuono told GoLocal that Brady Sullivan has a pattern of “discussing business practices — and has a pattern of complete disregard for the health of their tenants.»

Artin Coloian, Mastrobuono’s counsel in Rhode Island, told GoLocal that, “As a result of the Brady Sullivan’s actions…or inaction…my client has suffered hideous injuries.”

Brady Sullivan in RI

In Rhode Island, Brady Sullivan operates six major property — all mill rehabs. Those properties are:

Harris Mill Lofts in Coventry

US Rubber Lofts in Providence

Lofts at Anthony Mill in Coventry

Tourister Mill in Warren

American Wire in Pawtucket

Lofts at Pocasset Mill in Johnston

In addition, Mastrobuono alleges that, «During the winter of 2017, Plaintiff was diagnosed with irreversible and incurable interstitial lung disease as a result of chronic pneumonia and hypersensitivity pneumonitis which he suffered due to extended exposure to airborne mold toxins.»

New England Complaints

This is not the first time allegations or enforcement actions have been levied against Brady Sullivan:

Worcester

On January 4, 2016, GoLocal Worcester reported: «A developer who works throughout New England is under fire in New Hampshire — and workers unions and environmentalists are now asking the EPA to investigate all Brady Sullivan properties throughout the region, including Worcester.

Developer Brady Sullivan is currently the subject of a lead contamination lawsuit at Mill West in Manchester, NH, and Kevin Ksen with the Carpenters Local #107 in Worcester said a petition to the EPA with over 20,000 signatures is intended to monitor all of the developer’s properties, and cited examples of labor issues in Massachusetts that prompted the action.

“We had some experiences with labor issues at Brady Sullivan properties in Massachusetts,” said Ksen.  “Our main concern is when property is developed, are they hiring quality workers, and doing legitimate work.  What happened in [New Hampshire], another contractor wouldn’t get away with that. So when that lawsuit moved forward, that’s what moved us to do the petition with Clean Water Action and Public Citizen,” said Ksen.

More in Worcester

On January 7, 2016, GoLocal reported:

More concerns are being raised by community organizers and New England labor leaders about the developer poised to redevelop the Old Courthouse in Worcester. But, business leaders and one member of the Worcester City Council defend the developer.

{image_3}Brady Sullivan, a New Hampshire based company, purchased the building from the City of Worcester in April for $1.2 million. This project is not its only project in the Worcester-area. The company is also developing the Junction Shop Lofts in Worcester and the Lofts at Lancaster Mills in Clinton.

Now, new concerns are coming to light over the quality of the company’s work, issues of environmental exposure and allegation of failure to make timely payment to workers.

As GoLocalWorcester reported on Monday, Developer Brady Sullivan is currently the subject of a lead contamination lawsuit at Mill West in Manchester, NH, and Kevin Ksen with the Carpenters Local #107 in Worcester said a petition to the EPA with over 20,000 signatures is intended to monitor all of the developer’s properties, and cited examples of labor issues in Massachusetts that prompted the action.

“We had some experiences with labor issues at Brady Sullivan properties in Massachusetts,” said Ksen.  “Our main concern is when property is developed, are they hiring quality workers, and doing legitimate work.  What happened in [New Hampshire], another contractor wouldn’t get away with that. So when that lawsuit moved forward, that’s what moved us to do the petition with Clean Water Action and Public Citizen,” said Ksen.

Now, there are concerns about building quality and new documentation of mold in Brady Sullivan units.

“If Worcester cared about good jobs for local people, they wouldn’t have gone so willingly into this agreement. Brady Sullivan’s bad reputation is defined by their subcontractors’ track record of poor workmanship, health violations, safety violations, insurance fraud, and wage theft which just keeps getting longer,” Manny Gines, Organizer for the New England Carpenters. “Worcester already decided, so now it’s the City’s responsibility to guarantee that the problems that have been documented in Worcester and Clinton as well as Vermont, and New Hampshire don’t happen again.

«Three of the four workers at Brady Sullivan’s mill project in Clinton that were the victims of wage theft in July were Worcester residents,» he said. «That should wake Worcester up enough to know they need to monitor Brady Sullivan and their subcontractors really closely in order to make sure this project doesn’t become a black-eye.”

In contrast, Tim Murray outlines the importance of the redevelopment of the Old Court House, “Brady Sullivan Properties’ multi-million dollar private sector investments in Worcester are significant. These investments are creating many jobs and spending locally where previously there were none as well as restoring dangerous and vacant buildings into needed, market rate, and workforce housing.”

Murray said, “Additionally, these investments expand the city’s tax base, which is critical in paying for needed municipal services. Also, Brady Sullivan’s commitment to work with the city to include local workers and contractors on these projects is fully supported by the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce.”

New Hampshire

New Hampshire Public Radio reported on November 27, 2017, “A group of Manchester residents exposed to elevated levels of lead dust has reached a settlement with property developer Brady Sullivan. Several dozen residents of the Mill West apartment complex in Manchester sued Brady Sullivan, contending that the company’s construction project in 2015 in lower levels of the mill building kicked up dangerous levels of lead-dust into luxury apartments on higher floors.They also say Brady Sullivan, after making complaints about the lead exposure, would not let them out of their leases.” Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Brady Sullivan has also been tied to soil contamination issues on Londonberry, NH, asbestos dumping in Lawrence, MA and more than half a dozen other environment complaints around New England.

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