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Melchiori Terminated from UCSB Project as General Contractor

University and local construction firm trade blame for stalled construction of Ocean Sciences Education Building

A local contractor was removed from a $6.5 million UCSB construction project earlier this month when work was left unfinished after months of being behind schedule.

Melchiori Construction Co. was hired to construct UCSB’s Ocean Sciences Education Building, which sits at the corner of Lagoon and UCEN Roads, in March 2010.

Work was to have been completed in August 2011, according to a statement from UCSB.

“Because the $6.5 million project is still unfinished and the contractor is many months behind schedule, the university terminated the Melchiori contact April 18,” the statement said. 

UCSB has demanded that Western Surety Co. of Woodland Hills meet its obligation to complete the work under the performance bond.

The statement also said the university holds a payment bond issued by Western Surety, which guarantees payment to subcontractors and material suppliers.

Because of pending lawsuits by others in this case, and since this is an ongoing matter with Melchiori, UCSB said it could not provide further information.

Melchiori’s removal as contractor of the project is the latest of a series of woes the company is facing.

The Contractor State Licensing Board issued a citation to Melchiori Construction in March, claiming the Santa Barbara firm has failed to pay subcontractors that worked on Santa Barbara County’s new Emergency Operations Center. Melchiori attorney Kristine Mollenkopf told Noozhawk earlier this month that the company has appealed the citation.

The complaint from the state panel, filed late last month, comes as dozens of subcontractors continue to complain that they haven’t been paid for their work on several large public works projects done by Melchiori.

At the beginning of April, 17 EOC subcontractors still had not been paid, even though the project was completed last year.

As for the UCSB project, Melchiori maintains that university officials refused to sit down to mediate their conflicts. That forced Melchiori to issue its own termination letter for the project, according to Mollenkampf.

The project’s contract said Melchiori had 30 days written notice to terminate the deal, while the university only has to give five days notice, she said.

“Therefore, the university was able to terminate before MCC,” she said. “Melchiori will be supporting its surety, Western Surety, in exploring why MCC was wrongfully terminated by the university.”

She also said that the company has invested more than $2.5 million in labor and materials in the project “that has gone unpaid by the university for several months with nothing but excuses.”

Melchiori is pursuing claims for wrongful termination and breach of contract, she said.

In the meantime, the project remains unfinished, and Melchiori’s name as general contractor has been removed from the project’s billboard on Lagoon Road.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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