Essex Property alleges defects galore in construction work at South Park resi complex

The company’s lawsuit against C.W. Driver covers a host of alleged problems at the 440-unit property

Essex chief Michael J. Schall and Avant
Essex Property Trust CEO Michael Schall and Avant apartments.

It’s a battle of two real estate heavyweights.

Essex Property Trust, one of the West Coast’s biggest residential property owners, is suing C.W. Driver Companies, among the state’s oldest licensed construction firms, over alleged shoddy work at a recently-built South Park apartment complex.

The San Mateo-based real estate investment trust is accusing C.W. of “negligent,” “careless” and “unworkmanlike” construction of its 440-unit Avant, according to a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The complex, at 1420 S. Figueroa Street, has one- to three-bedroom units that range from $1,800 to $3,100 a month, according to Essex’s website. Amenities include a pool, fitness center and barbecue area.

The numerous construction defects Essex is alleging cover a range of work at Avant, and include waterproofing, stucco, siding, caulking and flashing, along with mechanical, electrical and plumbing installations.

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C.W. Driver entered into a design-build construction contract with the project’s original developer, an entity linked to Carlyle Group, which sold the project to Essex in 2015.

In the lawsuit, Essex claims the contract C.W. had with the Carlyle entity carried over to its purchase, and that the contractor violated those terms. Essex has a portfolio of 60,000 residential units, mostly in the Los Angeles, Orange County and San Francisco Bay areas.

The law firm representing Essex: Sheppard, Mullins, Richter and Hampton, is requesting the court allow it to establish the damages amount at trial.

A representative for C.W. could not be reached for comment.