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San Mateo's Metropolitan sues builder for $20M
January 06, 2011, 04:05 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal Staff

Erik Oeverndiek/Daily Journal The owners of The Metropolitan Apartments in San Mateo are suing Douglas Ross Construction and its subcontractors $20 million for shoddy construction and repairs.

The owners of twin four-story luxury apartments at the San Mateo Third Avenue gateway are suing the company that built them for no less than $20 million, claiming it used defective materials initially and later failed to repair the mistakes properly.

Douglas Ross Construction and its subcontractors are responsible for problems with everything from decks and walkways to supporting beams and stairs at The Metropolitan Apartments, according to the suit filed in San Mateo County Superior Court Dec. 28 by owning companies San Mateo West and San Mateo East.

Attorney Mark Sandberg did not return a call for greater details on the nature of the construction problems but in his filing ticks off several areas regarding the overall building and creating a "reasonably watertight system to allow for the maintenance of the integrity of the building” and "achieve an intended and expected useful life.”

The suit seeks damages "not less than $20 million” for repairs, replacement, loss of rent and decreased market value.

The apartments are two complexes at 338 S. Fremont St. and 337 S. Fremont St. in San Mateo. Each is four stories, spreading 218 units over the two lots which butt up to Third Avenue between Highway 101 and downtown.

The apartments opened in fall 2003 and required repairs as recently as July 2010, according to the suit which called them "inadequate and improper.”

Those repairs also removed evidence of the prior construction mistakes without the owners’ consent, the suit alleges.

Representatives of Douglas Ross did not return a call for comment.

On its website, the San Mateo company identifies itself as a third-party general contractor with more than 30 years experience and specializing in construction of larger high-density, urban in-fill apartment projects. The company calls this "the kind of work where we cannot be outdone.”

Named in the suit along with Douglas Ross Construction, Inc. is Tara Coatings, Inc., Etter and Sons Construction, Inc., Northstate Plastering, Inc., Alcal Roofing, Argenal Welding, Air Time Mechanical, Inc., CJS Plumbing Inc., Concrete Specialties Services, Inc., Doubled Concrete Company, Royal Electric, EZ Painting, Giacolone Electric, RJS & Associates, Precision Trades, Collier Warehouse, Spangler Concrete and 20 unnamed defendants.

The suit seeks damages for breach of contract, negligence, breach of third party beneficiary contract, breach of warranty and strict products liability.

The apartment project, formerly known as Prometheus, drew a different type of attention in the planning stages of the early ’00s as residents of the Central San Mateo neighborhood worried about heights and increased traffic congestion.

Reviews of the complex by current and former tenants at online sites like Yelp include several positive comments but also notes about cheap construction on closet doors and faulty wiring.

Michelle Durand can be reached by e-mail: michelle@smdailyjournal.com or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. 

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