A contractor on one of Baltimore developer Chasen Cos.’s marquee projects, the transformation of the historic Meyer Seed Co. warehouse into a luxury mixed-use building, stopped working on the site last fall and alleges that it’s owed more than $915,000.

In previously unavailable court documents obtained by The Baltimore Banner, Patriot Steel Fabrication Inc., a firm based on the Eastern Shore, asserts that Chasen Cos. hired it for $2.6 million to provide labor and materials related to the steel work on the building.

Patriot Steel delivered materials to the site and got started Sept. 19. But within about a month it stopped working, alleging it hadn’t received responses to requests for details about the project plans, according to court documents.

Chasen Cos. said it is converting the century-old warehouse on South Caroline Street at the edge of the Fells Point and Harbor East neighborhoods into “The Whitney.” It has been billed as a five-story, mixed-use development featuring 132 apartments, 44 condos and retail space.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Puttshack, an upscale mini golf and bar chain based in Chicago, said last year that it would open its first site in Maryland inside the building. A spokesperson from Puttshack said last month that there was no specific timeline regarding its opening.

Chasen Cos. said it is preserving the warehouse’s red-brick facade, and the company received approval from the city’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation to build an addition on top.

The exterior of a construction site that will become The Whitney, on South Caroline Street in Fells Point, is pictured on May 31, 2024. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

The Whitney’s website states as of Thursday that the building will be ready this year. But Chasen Cos. founder and CEO Brandon Chasen told The Banner on Thursday that he does not expect the project to be completed until summer 2025.

There has not been much visible construction on the site this year. It was devoid of workers and equipment on several recent visits.

Chasen said construction should soon be back underway, with workers on-site within 45 days. The company has already replaced Patriot Steel with a new contractor, he said, and is working to secure the financing necessary to finish the project.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

A later opening of The Whitney could mean higher-than-expected costs for Chasen Cos., which reports owning about 1,800 units in Baltimore and has been scaling back plans to nationally expand due to tough economic circumstances. It purchased the old warehouse for $10 million in 2022, court records show.

The company has made waves for a bullish acquisition strategy that enabled it to fan out quickly across neighborhoods, including Fells Point and Mount Vernon. A Banner data analysis of online property records found that the company has slowed its pace of buying over the past year.

Patriot Steel alleges in court documents that Chasen Cos. failed to provide needed information, only paid a portion of the invoices and then canceled the contract on Nov. 17. The developer reported that it would “assess the current invoices and have them paid for completed work only within 45 days” — but that has not happened.

“Patriot Steel made repeated follow-up inquiries regarding the lack of payment, but to date, Chasen has failed and refused to pay the amounts past due an owing to Patriot Steel,” wrote Jackson Nichols and Jason Copley, Patriot Steel’s attorneys, in court documents filed in Baltimore Circuit Court on April 15.

The business is now seeking to establish a mechanic’s lien against the property and improvements for more than $915,000 — plus interest and attorney fees.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“Our attorneys are in communication with theirs to remove the lien because it is our position that they were fully paid for work complete,” Chasen said in an email to The Banner.

Brandon Chasen is pictured on the rooftop of his company headquarters.
Real estate developer Brandon Chasen is photographed during an interview at his company’s office building in Fells Point on May 30, 2024. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

In an interview Thursday, Nathan Uncapher, Patriot Steel’s co-founder and CEO, rejected Chasen’s claim that he’d paid up. Uncapher said the firm remains committed to establishing the lien.

Uncapher said Chasen Cos. repeatedly failed to respond to formal requests for clarification of the project plans. Such information is meant to keep contractors and developers on the same page.

Chasen said the project’s engineers and architects received and responded to hundreds of emails from Patriot Steel and criticized the contractor for what he perceived to be atypical inflexibility.