By Tracey Arial
Thanks to a new developer, all the people who deposited $40,500 for units in the Bois de Caryer neighbourhood in LaSalle will get the home of their dreams or their life savings back.
“There’s no way I’m going to start a project with 97 people losing their life savings,” said Luciano Catalogna, one of the directors involved in the new project, Utopia Gardens. “I’m a spiritual person. I don’t want bad karma.”
Catalogna and the other Utopia directors André Lacombe and Mehrdad Shams Amiri own a little less than half of a 98,296 square metre property to the north west of Angrignon Park. They plan to build four condominium towers on their property to emphasize the technology produced at Structcan manufacturing plant in Pointe Claire.
But the rest of the project has been mired in controversy. More than 200 townhouses were built almost three years ago, but roads were never paved. No snow-clearing takes place in the winter. No sidewalks exist. Sewage lines were broken and the previous developer installed a trailer connection and then amplified it for the townhouses. Hydro Quebec did not consider the installation safe and planned to cut power the end of this month if it wasn’t fixed.
About two months ago, Utopia Towers decided that they should take over the whole project to make sure it becomes the landmark development it was intended to be.
“I want this whole area to be beautifully landscaped,” said Catalogna. “I want it to be like paradise. This will be Utopia Gardens. I want this project to be a beautiful area and there are going to be four towers and they’re going to stand up strong. My goal is not to make money from this project. I’m promoting my manufacturing plant. That’s what we’re truly doing now. By the end of October, everything is going to be completely finished.”
In the meantime, a complicated legal battle is being waged to get 97 depositors their money back. It’s difficult, because the previous development company has no assets, something discovered by two people who have judgements against them. Utopia Towers has obtained the right to collect the defaulted payments from all the parties, a total that adds up to more than a million dollars. Those who wish to can use the credit as a down-payment on one of the new condo units in Utopia Towers. The others will have to wait until Utopia can collect the cash by calling in a mortgage that includes personal guarantees from individuals involved.
The company can then focus on ground-breaking for the new towers, which should get underway by next summer.
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