Sunday, February 14 , 2016, 11:39 am | Fair 70º

Melchiori Construction Prevails in Civil Suit Over Chapala One Project

Jury sides with the company, awarding $5.8 million in damages — the sum of the unpaid bill — plus an estimated $6 million in payment penalties and attorney fees

The Chapala One luxury condos, located at Chapala and Gutierrez streets in Santa Barbara, remain unsold, and the large buildings have prompted a debate over city planning.
The Chapala One luxury condos, located at Chapala and Gutierrez streets in Santa Barbara, remain unsold, and the large buildings have prompted a debate over city planning.  (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

By Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @magnoli |

Melchiori Construction Co. of Santa Barbara prevailed Wednesday in its fight to recoup unpaid funds from the controversial Chapala One project.

A Santa Barbara County Superior Court jury ruled in the company’s favor in the civil suit against Chapala One LLC and owner Don Hughes.

“It was a very good day today for Melchiori Construction,” company attorney Kristine Mollenkopf said.

She said that during the construction of Chapala One, from 2004 to 2008, Melchiori was essentially forced to continue with construction while being underpaid and was eventually unpaid to the tune of $5.8 million.

The project was underfunded, according to Mollenkopf, and Hughes allegedly ordered changes that increased the amount of work, all while reassuring Melchiori that the company would be paid.

The verdict was against Chapala One LLC and Hughes personally for breach of contract and fraud on false promise. Melchiori was awarded $5.8 million in damages, which was the bill unpaid by Hughes, and delayed payment penalties and attorney costs, which are expected to be an additional $6 million.

Several subcontractors were included in the case and settled earlier on in the process, according to Mollenkopf.

The verdict was decided on day 31 of the trial and deliberation in Judge Denise de Bellefeuille’s courtroom.

The Chapala One luxury condos, located at Chapala and Gutierrez streets, are unsold, and the large buildings have prompted a debate over city planning, which included the 45-foot building height limit voter initiative on November 2010’s ballot.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

» on 05.12.11 @ 09:50 AM

Very sad. Since the son, Mark, took over the company Melchiori has a reputation for overcharging and under delivering.
Looks like they are getting away with it.

» on 05.14.11 @ 04:28 PM

How is Melchiori Construction the bad guy here? It seems like the client committed to a contract and then just didn’t or couldn’t pay. Are companies just supposed to eat those expenses now? That’s chilling, although the government approves of such behavior with home loans.

And what construction company — residential or commercial — doesn’t get accused of overcharging and underdelivering? Actually, the same can be said of car, airline, real estate, property management, software, credit card, trash companies, and government and lawyers, to name a few. Noozhawk just had a story on taxi companies with essentially the same complaints.

» on 05.16.11 @ 05:03 PM

The real test of a good contractor is how many of their former clients would hire them again. I wonder how many of Melchiori previous clients would use him again?

Melchiori is known to pump up and fabricate expenses.

» on 05.17.11 @ 08:48 PM

Dear CitizenSB:

Before you are inclined to write untruths about myself personally, my father or our company, please consider the following facts: I co-founded this company with my late father Ugo, in 1990/91. It was not handed to me nor did I take it over as you would suggest. Seamlessly (2 bodies and 1 soul) we built this business from nothing and we will continue in the traditions set by myself and my father together. It is unfair to be treated in the way we were treated by Chapala One, LLC and Mr. Hughes. It is as simple as that.

We are not appreciative of anyone who has to hide behind aliases or fake screen names to cast dispersions and lies about us or anyone else for that matter. We are considered the best at what we do for a reason; we strive to meet or exceed our client expectations every time and have what we would consider is the best client retention rate in the County. Not surprisingly, we think we are worth every dollar. However, you are entitled to your opinion and you can disagree if you like but consider this: The next time you need a doctor for a major personal issue, decision, advice, or work to be done; if costs is an issue for you, please go to the “lowest bidder” maybe that will work out really well for you?

If you would like, we would be happy to answer any and all questions you may have about me personally, our company, what and who we are, and what we stand for. Please feel free to make an appointment and we will meet you at the date and time of your choosing. Our office is easy to find and our number is equally as easy to acquire.

My very best and respectfully,

Mark J. Melchiori
Melchiori Construction Company

» on 05.23.11 @ 03:37 PM

To CitizenSB - Who constitutes your sample population and what is your survey’s margin of error?

Your statements are unsubstantiated.  An honest person is not afraid to claim his or her opinion as what it truly is - a personal opinion.  Perhaps shared in his or her circle of friends, but essentially a personal opinion none-the-less.  So unless you can publish verified survey results please tone it down and be content to speak for yourself - anything else is just gossip.

Personally everything I’ve heard about Melchiori’s work has been positive - so that’s MY opinion.

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