‘Junior designer’ shoddily drew up Cherry Creek building, developer says - BusinessDen (2024)

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The 320 Fillmore building, seen here on Jan. 17, 2024. (Maia Luem/BusinessDen)

The out-of-town developer behind a 60,000-square-foot project in Cherry Creek said that a Denver architecture firm let a newbie draw up designs that were rife with mistakes.

But that architecture firm said it did quality work that the developer is refusing to pay for.

Fillmore @ Third is the name given to the four-story building at 320 Fillmore St. in the chic shopping and office district. The glass-forward structure has 50,000 square feet of office space above 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail above underground parking.

Midwest Property Group, out of Chicago, broke ground in August 2022 with plans to finish it by the end of 2023. MPG hired 4240 Architecture to design Fillmore @ Third.

In MPG’s telling, the trouble began when 4240 let “a junior designer” only three years removed from college handle “the majority of the work,” according to a lawsuit MPG filed June 6. That designer was not a licensed architect, violating state statutes, MPG claims.

Its lawsuit contains an inexhaustive list of nine design flaws at 320 Fillmore, including faulty dimensions, improper fireproofing, a lack of exit signage and several code violations.

“The deficient performance by 4240 delayed completion of the project and has caused MPG to suffer significant damages,” the developer alleged in its Denver District Court case.

A rendering of the planned building as seen from the 300 block of Fillmore Street. (Courtesy of JLL)

While allegedly failing to provide even basic architectural services, according to MPG, 4240 was demanding more money than their contract called for. The developer said it initially made several payments under protest to avoid work stoppages, but when 4240 wanted more money to correct its own mistakes, MPG stopped paying and 4240 stopped working.

Michele Raftery, a principal at 4240 Architecture, has a much different story to tell.

“Unfortunately, the owner has failed to pay 4240 and its subconsultants for their work for the past six months. Only partial payments were made in the months before that,” she told BusinessDen. “We tried repeatedly to have a dialogue with the owner about the lack of payments and finally were left with no choice but to stop our work.”

Raftery said her firm is “disappointed” that MPG has chosen litigation over “honoring its contract obligations,” but 4240 is confident that it is in the right. The architecture firm plans to countersue for the amount owed, which Raftery declined to tally, and also foreclose on a lien.

“We are very comfortable defending the quality work that has been done by 4240 and the rest of the design team. We deserve to be paid for that work,” she said this week.

“Ultimately, we hope to get back to work and successfully complete this project, after the owner performs its outstanding payment obligations.”

MPG’s founder, Jay Javors, and its lawyer, Jonathan Pray with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, declined to answer questions about the extent of the delays at Fillmore @ Third, the economic damage to MPG, and the name of 4240’s so-called junior designer.

The office space at 320 Fillmore is fully leased to three tenants. Most of its retail area will be taken up by Garbarini, a local fashion store, as BusinessDen reported in January.

The 320 Fillmore building, seen here on Jan. 17, 2024. (Maia Luem/BusinessDen)

The out-of-town developer behind a 60,000-square-foot project in Cherry Creek said that a Denver architecture firm let a newbie draw up designs that were rife with mistakes.

But that architecture firm said it did quality work that the developer is refusing to pay for.

Fillmore @ Third is the name given to the four-story building at 320 Fillmore St. in the chic shopping and office district. The glass-forward structure has 50,000 square feet of office space above 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail above underground parking.

Midwest Property Group, out of Chicago, broke ground in August 2022 with plans to finish it by the end of 2023. MPG hired 4240 Architecture to design Fillmore @ Third.

In MPG’s telling, the trouble began when 4240 let “a junior designer” only three years removed from college handle “the majority of the work,” according to a lawsuit MPG filed June 6. That designer was not a licensed architect, violating state statutes, MPG claims.

Its lawsuit contains an inexhaustive list of nine design flaws at 320 Fillmore, including faulty dimensions, improper fireproofing, a lack of exit signage and several code violations.

“The deficient performance by 4240 delayed completion of the project and has caused MPG to suffer significant damages,” the developer alleged in its Denver District Court case.

A rendering of the planned building as seen from the 300 block of Fillmore Street. (Courtesy of JLL)

While allegedly failing to provide even basic architectural services, according to MPG, 4240 was demanding more money than their contract called for. The developer said it initially made several payments under protest to avoid work stoppages, but when 4240 wanted more money to correct its own mistakes, MPG stopped paying and 4240 stopped working.

Michele Raftery, a principal at 4240 Architecture, has a much different story to tell.

“Unfortunately, the owner has failed to pay 4240 and its subconsultants for their work for the past six months. Only partial payments were made in the months before that,” she told BusinessDen. “We tried repeatedly to have a dialogue with the owner about the lack of payments and finally were left with no choice but to stop our work.”

Raftery said her firm is “disappointed” that MPG has chosen litigation over “honoring its contract obligations,” but 4240 is confident that it is in the right. The architecture firm plans to countersue for the amount owed, which Raftery declined to tally, and also foreclose on a lien.

“We are very comfortable defending the quality work that has been done by 4240 and the rest of the design team. We deserve to be paid for that work,” she said this week.

“Ultimately, we hope to get back to work and successfully complete this project, after the owner performs its outstanding payment obligations.”

MPG’s founder, Jay Javors, and its lawyer, Jonathan Pray with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, declined to answer questions about the extent of the delays at Fillmore @ Third, the economic damage to MPG, and the name of 4240’s so-called junior designer.

The office space at 320 Fillmore is fully leased to three tenants. Most of its retail area will be taken up by Garbarini, a local fashion store, as BusinessDen reported in January.

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‘Junior designer’ shoddily drew up Cherry Creek building, developer says - BusinessDen (2024)
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