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Bankruptcy rocks New Jersey Ridgefield project

New Jersey contractor Joe Wilson believed his invitation to work on a Ridgefield construction project was a good opportunity. However, it's been two years since the project's completion, and Wilson is still owed $300,000 for his efforts. Wilson is one of the 29 subcontractors still awaiting payment from the project's developer. Records indicate that a private lender and the project's developer still owe $7.5 million toward the completion of the Ridgefield project. Unfortunately, Wilson states that efforts to procure payment have been thwarted by foreclosure, litigation and bankruptcy.

Subcontractors will be the last ones on the list to receive payment when the foreclosure process is complete. The project's developer, Moonlight Meadows LLC, planned the project as an industrial warehouse with 24 spaces designed for light industry. The company hired New Jersey's DesignWest Builders Inc. as the general contractor. DesignWest sought the assistance of a number of subcontractors to keep the project on schedule.

The project, which was backed by the Coppege Family Trust, suffered greatly thanks to the dramatic drop in real estate values. Last year, Moonlight Meadows filed for bankruptcy. A spokesman for the company indicated that because they were unable to sell the warehouse spaces at the prices they had anticipated, the company suffered financial hemorrhage. As a result of the bankruptcy, Coppege foreclosed on the property.

The bankruptcy has left many subcontractors unpaid and a number of different companies hurting in the aftermath. Wilson, age 64, states very simply that he completed a job for which he wasn't paid. He is now suing Moonlight Meadows and Coppege for payment.

Wilson is not the only subcontractor hurting. Roger Burton, who owns Aloha Electric, finds it unreasonable that Coppege can sell a property without paying subcontractors what they're owed. Burton and his team of four electricians began work on the project in January of 2009.

Burton indicated that the he's still owed $182,000 for work and material. Burton was able to pay his employees after the completion of the project but was also forced to file personal bankruptcy. "Now, my house is in the foreclosure process," said Burton, age 71. "I've never been in this kind of trouble in my whole life."

Source: The Columbian, "Subcontractors who worked on Ridgefield project say they're owed $7.5 million," Cami Joner, 23 Feb, 2011

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