Splitting The Difference
The Shul and its contractor come to a compromise over construction costs.
like what they did. We are very happy with the
building — we think it's a beautiful shul.
"It was simply a disagreement with the scope of
the project, specifically what was included and what
wasn't. Thank God, we were able to solve it together
without litigation from outside,"' he said.
Burnstein said he was glad to be able to facilitate a
mutually acceptable" agreement. "I hope we'll be
able to implement this agreement with both parties
in a spirit of good will and mutual respect."
Condominiums and other complexes in and around
Blumenstein, who has spent 25 years in the con-
struction business, claims the Shul was overcharged
for contingencies that occurred during the course of
"There is nothing the Shul has any fault in," said
The contractor's attorney disagrees.
"If he [Blumenstein] felt the details in the letters were
outside the scope of the project, he could have written
back," said Burnstein, whose practice focuses on con-
struction law. "He had two choices — he could have
said, It's too high; we're not going to pay this much,' or
he could have said, 'Stop the work.' He did neither."
Shmina said he had completed every part of the
job under the impression that his extras had been
The contractor stressed the urgency to complete
the Shul by the High Holidays.
The original contract between Shimina and the
Lubavitch Foundation would have resulted in com-
pletion of the Shul by Sept. 5, 2002, just prior to
Rosh Hashanah, Shmina said.
"That date would have been extended, in light of
all the changes," he said.
"From June 2002 to August 2002, we had a mas-
sive push to complete the building," Shmina said.
"Normally, we would have finished in October. We
had the pressure on. I called in every favor I had to
get this job done."
Among Shmina's other recent projects are the First
Presbyterian Church of Plymouth; Genoa-Osceola
he new Shul-Chabad Lubavitch building
in West Bloomfield first opened its doors
in time for Rosh Hashanah last
Since then, Livonia-based general contractor A.Z.
Shmina Inc. — which, along with more than 20 sub-
contractors, built the 17,000-square-foot synagogue
— has been waiting for a com-
plete payment from Michigan's
who has led his 87-
The Lubavitch Foundation
already has paid about $2 mil-
happy with the
lion of the original $3.1 mil-
lion contract. According to
The contractor said he held
Andrew Shmina, president of
monthly meetings during the
the contracting firm, the Shul
construction period with Rabbi
also owes $428,000 in extras,
Kasriel Shemtov and Sam
primarily for work he says
for the Shul, and that
Shul represen-tatives requested after the original con-
at those meetings.
tract was signed.
Representatives of the Orthodox synagogue claim
summarizing those meetings, the new work discussed
the bill was inflated by unauthorized and over-
and how much each item would cost. However, he
said, he never received written acknowledgement
The impasse over how much is rightfully owed
from the project manager for the added costs.
was tentatively resolved last month with a compro-
Blumenstein, who volunteered his time as the
mise agreement. If Shmina's subcontractors agree to
project manager, said the Shul was "just being
accept reduced payment, and if all parties live up to
coming to an agreement. "His [Shmina's]
the agreement's terms, the dispute should be settled.
time and efforts were not as originally discussed,"
Shmina's attorney, Marty Burnstein of West
said Blumenstein, developer of Maple Place
Bloomfield, said the Shul has agreed to pay about
$1.38 million, which is 100 percent of the base
amount plus more than half the extras. In early
June, the Lubavitch Foundation placed $500,000 in
escrow as a down payment on the agreed-upon
remainder, Burnstein said.
The agreement calls for the remaining money to
be paid within six weeks after the contractor com-
pletes the items on a "punch list" — construction
details that were not completed, or not done to the
owner's satisfaction, Burnstein said.
"Everyone connected with the project is very proud
of the building," Shmina said. "I just want to get paid."
The Shul is located at 6890 W. Maple Road, west
of the Eugene and Marcia Applebaum Jewish
Community Campus. The building is the first part
of Lubavitch's proposed Campus for Living Judaism.
The local Lubavitch community raised money for
the new building, said Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov, rabbi
at the Shul, and son of Rabbi Berel Shemtov, head
of Michigan's Lubavitch Foundation. Lubavitch is
the town in Belarus where Chabad, a part of the
Orthodox movement, was founded.
The Lubavitch Foundation denies that a cash
shortfall is behind the delayed payments. "This has
nothing to do with donors or no donors," Rabbi
The Shul is the first building built on the Lubavitch Foundation's Campus for Living Judaism in West Bloomfield.
Kasriel Shemtov said. "And it's not that we didn't