Woman sues Aspen interior designer over project issues
The Aspen Times
An Atlanta woman is suing a local interior designer, alleging incomplete work on a condominium-unit remodel project that was supposed to be completed prior to the start of the current ski season.
The complaint against Aspen company Design by Renee LLC and its owner, Renee Bowden, was filed Wednesday on behalf of Meredith Bell, the owner of the condo unit in The Gant, a luxury hotel and condo-rental property on South West End Avenue. Bell is represented by attorneys with the Aspen law firm Garfield & Hecht PC.
Bowden could not be reached for comment on the lawsuit.
The document alleges that Bell entered into a contract with Bowden in July. The project sought to upgrade the unit from “substandard” to “premier,” according to The Gant’s guidelines.
The budget for the 85-day project was $224,925, the complaint says. It had to be completed before Dec. 10, based on The Gant’s rules concerning construction activity, which is not allowed between Dec. 10 and the end of ski season in April.
The contract required Bowden to “provide all copies of all specifications selected and … to be approved by Bell,” the lawsuit states. It also stipulated that Bell be updated every two days and include photos and videos of work in progress, according to the suit.
In a late-September meeting, the two women met to discuss the project, the suit says. At that time, Bowden assured Bell that a kitchen-design professional would be hired to create detailed plans for the kitchen. The specifications were to be submitted for Bell’s review and approval, the document alleges.
The project continued through mid-October, when Bell questioned the status of the kitchen design, the suit states, adding that Bowden assured Bell that everything was “going very smoothly.”
But in text messages, Bell questioned certain kitchen cabinet specifications of the project, adding that she had never decided or approved them, according to the suit.
On Oct. 22, Bowden sent Bell a text message that reportedly said, “…what we need for you to be happy is a kitchen designer — to plan the kitchen and provide you the detailed measurement.”
But Bell believed that a designer already had been retained, the filing says.
“On or around Oct. 22, 2014, Bell discovered that Defendants did not oversee the timely design of the kitchen to meet the project construction timeline under the contract,” the suit states. “Due to Defendants’ failures to obtain detailed kitchen plans, the project could not be completed as contracted for by the Dec. 10, 2014, construction cut-off date imposed by The Gant.”
On Oct. 27, Bell’s Georgia attorney sent a letter notifying Bowden that she was terminated and demanding an accounting for the project, according to the lawsuit. Bell — who uses the unit for family vacations in addition to deriving revenue from it as a rental — had paid Bowden’s company a total of $119,880 between late July and early October, the document states.
Neither Bowden nor her company have provided a detailed accounting of the costs, the suit says, adding that “upon information and belief, Defendants disbursed approximately $38,824.98 of the funds paid by Bell to various subcontractors.”
Since Bowden was terminated, Bell has received numerous invoices from subcontractors claiming they were owed money, the lawsuit states.
“The unit is currently uninhabitable … and Bell is not able to rent out the unit for either short- or long-term rentals during the 2014-2015 winter season,” the document adds.
The lawsuit seeks a trial to determine damages from loss of use, direct economic costs and losses, interest and attorneys fees.
Nearly three years after Aspen City Council cleared the founder of Jazz Aspen Snowmass to launch a jazz performance and education center downtown, Jim Horowitz said he expects the project will get rolling before the year is over.
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