Sponsored by Oregon Business

Lien times hit construction

| Print |  Email
Archives - November 2008
Saturday, November 01, 2008

SeymourCourt Sophia’s View on Seymour Court: an ambitious project hit by construction liens.

STATEWIDE The steep hillside overlooking the Willamette River is a Portland residential community without residents. On one side of Seymour Court, all of the newly built homes are either for sale or for rent. On the other side of the street, seven townhouses and eight condominiums stand not quite finished, an ambitious project swamped by construction liens.

It’s an increasingly common scene in once-hot real estate markets from Eugene to Portland to Bend. Construction liens have doubled in Multnomah County and tripled in Washington County, and while other major metro counties throughout Oregon do not track those pleas for payment specifically, the anecdotal evidence suggests that the love affair between banks, developers, builders, suppliers and subcontractors is officially over.

“It’s not good when you don’t get your money,” says Mike Reed, a project manager for Pagh Custom Woodworking in Sandy. “Nobody likes to work for free.”

Pagh is one of a dozen or so subcontractors to file liens over the restoration of Block 90 of Portland’s Pearl District. The four-person shop is owed $47,120 and Reed is worried that the company may end up eating it. The point of a construction lien is to give debtors an incentive to pay the bills in order to complete the project. But in the case of Block 90, work was already finished by the time Pagh, Cascade Plumbing, Herinck Painting and other subcontractors filed their liens.

Even if a lien halts a project, there is no guarantee the money will follow. Milwaukie-based Trinity Carpet Brokers learned that the hard way, going bankrupt earlier this year after performing $1 million of unpaid work for Renaissance Homes. Renaissance has followed Trinity into bankruptcy, along with Legend Homes, formerly one of the largest homebuilders in Oregon.

Smaller subcontractors and suppliers hoping to avoid similar fates are growing increasingly aggressive in filing liens. Wilsonville Concrete Products recently filed six in a single day. “It’s our only way to protect our interests,” says general manager George Adams.

Canby-based Roth Heating and Cooling has filed “so many I can’t keep track,” says owner Kory MacGregor, who has had to lay off 60 employees over the past year.

And then there is the granddaddy of all Oregon construction liens: the $15.8 million owed to Hoffman Construction by the developers of Portland’s 194-condo Waterfront Pearl. Hoffman vice president Bart Eberwein says it is by far the largest lien the company has filed. If the bill is not paid, Hoffman could end up owning the entire development. “We try to avoid situations like this,” says Eberwein, “because the whole thing just trickles down and people get hurt.”

Hoffman is also ensnared in another high-profile project being torpedoed by liens, The Nines hotel above Macy’s in downtown Portland. Two subcontractors filed liens for a combined $6.5 million just days after invitations went out to the high-priced hotel’s grand opening in late October.                                           


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



More Articles

Mayoral musings

Linda Baker
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
091515-mayors-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

The 2016 presidential election is shaping up to be the year of the outsider, with Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump capturing leads in the polls and the headlines. In Portland, Wheeler vs. Hales is bucking the outlier trend.


Back to School

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Oregon is home to an abundance of gritty warehouses reborn as trendy office spaces, as well as crafty hipsters turned entrepreneurs. Does the combination yield an equally bounteous office products sector? Not so much. Occupying the limited desk jockey space are Field Notes, a spinoff of Portland’s Draplin Design Company, and Schuttenworks, known for whittling Apple device stands. For a full complement of keyboard trays, docking stations and mouse pads, check out the GroveMade line, guaranteed to boost the cachet of even the lowliest cubicle drone. 


The God complex

Linda Baker
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
093015-zydellren-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR

The media coverage about Pope Francis must have put me in a Biblical frame of mind. Because after touring the latest phase of the South Waterfront development, a mind boggling 1.5 million square feet of office and retail space that will spring up north of the aerial tram over the next few years, I couldn’t stop thinking about the massive project as a modern day creation story.


Salad Days

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

How Portland's Garden Bar plans to become the Starbucks of salad.


Light Reading

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015

Ask any college student: Textbook prices have skyrocketed out of control. Online education startup Lumen Learning aims to bring them down to earth.


Social media transforming sports business

The Latest
Thursday, September 24, 2015

The traditional model of sports teams using paid media to get their message across is disappearing as teams look instead to social media to interact with fans.


Car be gone

Linda Baker
Thursday, August 06, 2015
070615car2goblogthumbBY LINDA BAKER

Car and ride sharing services have taken urban areas by storm. Low-income and suburban communities are left at the curb.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02