Dooley House, a struggling Camden nonprofit that provides social services to adults and children with HIV and AIDS, secured a federal grant last year for transitional housing for people with AIDS.
Dooley House then contracted the Philadelphia-based developer Seven Caesars to perform the rehab work at 521 Cooper St., known as Hogan House, using the federal grant for Housing Opportunities of Persons with AIDS.
What should have been an early Christmas present for Dooley House has turned into a lengthy dispute over payments between the city and the nonprofit's subcontractor. The project is only half-finished.
Seven Caesars, which was subcontracted for $401,229 to outfit Hogan House with 11 units, filed a complaint Wednesday in Superior Court against the city and Dooley House alleging breach of contract and other counts. The subcontractor claims that the city has refused to make the third, and largest, payment of $153,000.
The city, which administers federal housing grants, made the first two payments last year for a total of $193,805. But after a review of the receipts submitted and payments made in the Dooley House project, the city clamped down on its other grant subrecipients.
"This incident shed light on the lack of uniformity of documentation submitted to the city by contractors and subcontractors," Camden Finance Director Glynn Jones wrote in a Dec. 27 letter to Dooley House's attorney, James Herman. It was not clear Wednesday whether other nonprofits also were awaiting payments from the city.
Dooley House and Seven Caesars have since turned in all requested receipts and other documentation to the city, said Laverne Hicks, site manager for the Hogan House project.
City spokesman Robert Corrales declined to comment on the case, saying the project remained under review by the city.
According to letters from city officials to Herman between late December and Monday, the city froze funds for the Hogan House project in part because of concerns that Seven Caesars acquired its construction permit only after commencing construction.
Because the grant money flows from the city through Dooley House to Seven Caesars, the subcontractor had to sue both entities, said Hicks, who is a friend of Dooley House chief executive Emery Troy.
Troy declined to comment Wednesday, saying he "didn't know anything" about the complaint by Seven Caesars.
Though the contract between Dooley House and Seven Caesars does not expire until June, Seven Caesars was ready to enter the final stage of construction late last year, Hicks said.