A pair of duelling lawsuits have been filed related to a much-delayed Barrington Street development.
On one side of the legal battle is The Roy Building Limited, the company formed by Toronto bazillionaire Louis Reznick to building the fancifully named 16-storey Roy Building, which replicates the facade of the 1940s-era building of the same name, which was torn down for the new building.
On the other side is Ruth Armelin, who describes herself as a retired person living in Albufeira, Portugal, who is “a visitor to Halifax, Nova Scotia from time-to-time.”
At dispute are four condo units in the Roy Building comprising a specially built super-luxury suite for Armelin. Price tag: $2,089,050.
The two lawsuits generally agree on the history of the suite.
Armelin says she entered into a sales agreement with The Roy on October 18, 2015. She says the Roy made the following representations:
• The Roy would offer its residents a “luxury lifestyle experience”;
• The Roy Building Limited “would proceed with alacrity in its construction of The Roy;
• That Armelin’s suite and the larger Roy building would be “constructed, completed, finished” and available for occupancy by March 31, 2017
• That Armelin’s suite and the building would be “constructed with an array of features and terms which were listed, variously and without limittation, as ‘impressive,’ ‘exceptional,’ ‘incredibly unique,’ ‘world-class,’ ‘beautiful,’ ‘functional,’ ‘up-scale,’ ‘first of its kind [in Halifax],’ like a ‘five-star hotel in a world capital,’ and other miscellaneous such terms and plaudits of like or similar effect.”
The Roy’s lawsuit echoes the October 18, 2015 completion date, and adds a few details. Armelin first agreed to purchase two condos — units 1909 and 1910, along with two parking spaces — for $1.2 million, with a deposit of $180,000 to be paid in three instalments. The two units were to be combined into one, with a closing date of March 31, 2016.
The Roy says that agreement left the developer with an option to extend the closing date 180 days “to accommodate construction,” and another 180 days “while awaiting condominium registration.”
But then on September 21, 2016 the agreement was amended such that Armelin would additionally purchase units 1907 and 1908, the purchase price increased to a total of $2,089,050, and the deposit increased to $313,357.50.
The increased suite would have special-built features, including:
• A closed “Chef’s Kitchen” for discreet catering service and food preparation;
• four bedrooms with four full bathrooms;
• an additional service entry into the suite;
• a 750 square foot master bedroom, ensuite and closets;
• a custom marble table.
The Roy says the agreement was amended again on December 15, 2017, with a new closing date of July 20, 2018. As the Roy sees it, that closing date plus the 360-day option for extension meant that The Roy had until July 15, 2019 to be complete.
“No reasons were offered by [The Roy] for its delays in its completion of the [suite] and the Roy by March 31, 2017,” says Armelin in her lawsuit. But she signed with the understanding that construction was “proceeding apace and that there would be no further delays beyond July 20th, 2018.”
Armelin says she received written notification from The Roy on May 8, 2018 that completion of her suite and of the building was “right around the corner” and she’d be able to occupy the suite in “late June or early July” of 2018.
Next, says Armelin, on August 16, 2018 she received another notice that said construction was “progressing steadily” and she’d be able to move in by the end of October 2018.
Armelin says that had she known the building wasn’t going to be finished by July 20, 2018, she wouldn’t had signed the amended agreement.
The Roy says it finally notified Armelin on April 18, 2019 that the suite was complete except for “some minor superficial finishing details,” and that Armelin was free to move so long as she allowed workers “reasonable access from time to time” to finish the work.
Armelin puts the date of notification in “the summer of 2019,” but says that even then the suite wasn’t complete.
“There were many defects and deficiencies in the manner in which [the suite] had been constructed and finished, many of the amenities on which [The Roy] and [Armelin] had agreed with respect to [the suite] had not been completed or installed,” reads the lawsuit. “The Roy itself had not been completed and was nowhere near completion, any of The Roy’s common areas and common amenities … were not functional and the The Roy was itself open to the public without any forms or access control or security for many hours of each day.”
Still, Armelin’s daughter, Amanda Meagher, moved into the suite.
Then, on September 7, Hurricane Dorian came ashore in Halifax, and the suite was “subjected to a large incursion of rainwater which damaged certain of its finishes and contents… rainwater damage in one room was so significant that the affected flooring will require wholesale replacement.”
Without telling her, says Armelin, The Roy employees entered the suite to address the flooding. She only found out about it when her son-in-law (presumably Amanda’s husband) came back from an overseas trip on September 10 to find the suite “in disrepair.”
As The Roy sees it, however, the deficiencies “were of a minor nature and to be expected when finalizing newly constructed residential premises.”
None of the claims have been tested in court.
The Roy will appear in court on November 12 to ask for a hearing for a court order requiring Armelin to make payment on the sale.
The Roy is represented by Harry Thurlow at Cox & Palmer. Armelin is represented by Gavin Giles at McInnis Cooper.