Incomplete 663 Princess apartments leave tenants stranded

Patry Inc. questioned for stalled construction and unfinished units

Some hallways and units at 663 Princess St. weren’t completed for residents’ arrivals.
Credit: 
Joyce Li

Unfinished units at Patry Inc.’s 663 Princess St. apartment building have forced some tenants to scramble to find alternate accommodations — often hotel rooms — for an indeterminate amount of time. 

The building’s misfortunes — with a fire in 2013 and legal battles to follow — continued throughout the summer as it became clear that many units wouldn’t be finished in time for the arrival of new tenants in September. 

When September arrived, along with stalled construction and incomplete hallways, many students were informed that they wouldn’t be able to move in on the date specified on their lease.

Patrick Han, ArtSci ’18, signed a lease for a unit in the building with a move-in date for September. However, the unit is not yet complete, and won’t be finished until October, Han said.

“Their initial statement asked to wait until the 15th [of September],” Han said in an interview with The Journal. “That promise was not kept.”

According to him, Patry Inc. has organized for hotel accommodation at the Four Points Sheraton for tenants who can’t move in until Oct. 15. After that date, residents are asked to find their own place to stay, although the company has promised to reimburse double the cost. 

“That is what they promised,” Han said. However, he added this clause wasn’t included in the leases so he would “have to wait and see if they go through with that for everyone.”

While Han said Patry Inc. was being “adequately responsible” in providing compensation, he was disappointed in the situation as a whole. 

“The claims made by Patry at the signing of the lease proved too ambitious, and some of us have to bear the consequences,” he said. 

“The management, and the lackluster way they approached the construction [and] detailing, raises an eyebrow.” 

According to Han, the delays in construction have affected how students view the property developer.

“Everyone has a bad view of Patry thanks to last year, and rightfully so,” Han said. “They are not evil, so to speak — just rather irresponsible.”

Han said Patry Inc. has also been difficult to contact throughout the ordeal. 

“Their staff is not very engaging on the phone, so trying to sort out matters is difficult unless you visit them in person,” he said.

In an interview with The Journal, Zola Mehlomakulu of Patry Inc. said the delayed move-ins are an unfortunate reality. 

“It’s a complex building, and a large building and unfortunately, construction can be delayed at times,” he said.

According to Mehlomakulu, 489 of 503 residents have moved in, and the four remaining units should be moved in “hopefully, by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.”

He said safety is one of their “paramounts concerns” and that the company has added fire separations, drywall and sprinkler systems to the building, which are now “completely in place and active”. 

In reference to the displaced residents, he said they’ve arranged for “alternative accommodation”, but wouldn’t clarify exactly what that meant.

“People are in hotels, that sort of thing,” he said.

Mehlomakulu also declined to discuss compensation for their tenants, stating that it isn’t public information. 

“We’re addressing with residents how compensation will be handled, but we’ve made arrangements with everyone.” 

Anthony Bambokian, another resident of 663 Princess St., said he experienced the same difficulties as Han when communicating with the company. During the summer, he placed a call to Patry Inc. regarding the status of his unit. 

“They just never got back to me,” Bambokian, ArtSci ’16, said. However, he added that some of his friends have found contacting the company much easier. 

Unlike Han, Bambokian has been able to move into his unit with only minor difficulties, such as recently dried paint and no balcony railing. 

Bambokian also noted that the possibility of construction delays were included in the original lease, which he signed in January 2015. 

The delays at the building, located at Princess St. and Victoria St., come after an infamous blaze when the mostly wooden, half-constructed building burnt down on Dec. 17, 2013.

The accident engulfed the construction site with flames, and, later, shrouded it in ice due to the large amounts of water required to control the fire. 

On August 26, 2014, the Ontario Ministry of Labour laid 22 legal charges against the complex’s developer, Jay Patry Enterprises, Inc., and Stelmach Property Management Inc., as well as individually against Jason Patry, Nathan Patry and Troy Stelmach.

The allegations included failure to ensure that an adequate means of exit was provided from a work area in case of emergency evacuation and failure to take reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of workers.

The sentencing of these charges took place on May 15, 2015, in Kingston Court. The defendants pleaded guilty and were fined $74,000.

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