Some of the construction contractors who filed claims against Dist. 177 — North Platte’s renovated mall — have apparently received payments for their work on the project.

Three companies released their claims against the Dist. 177 owners on June 4. The total amount of the liens that were released is $487,600 — amounting to nearly two-thirds of $760,000 in liens that were filed in May.

However, two more liens were filed on June 3, both by Meininger Fire Protection of Lincoln for fire sprinkler work in the store that is now occupied by T.J. Maxx. Meininger’s two claims add up to $58,000.

Meininger previously filed an $8,000 lien for sprinkler work in the Five Below store. It has not been released.

The uproar over unpaid construction companies came as the extensive three-year renovation of the district nears completion. More than 10 retail stores are now open, including the latest two — TJ Maxx and Five Below — and shoppers are steadily arriving.

Construction liens are filed with the register of deeds office at the Lincoln County courthouse. The claims make it difficult to sell or re-finance property without first paying the lien holder. The claimants have the option to file a lawsuit in district court against the company in an attempt to force payment.

Still outstanding is a $91,000 claim filed by Kingdom Customs Flooring and Construction, led by Eric Wiezorek of North Platte. The lien was filed on May 28.

Wiezorek has been outspoken about the situation. He posted his claim on the morning of May 24 on social media, sparking hundreds of comments. He told the Bulletin the day before that he thought the time had come to apply public pressure.

In reply to Wiezorek’s claims, the District 177 general construction contractor, New Generation Construction, said that unpaid invoices from Wiezorek’s company, Kingdom Customs, represent work that has not yet passed inspection “relating to project specifications.”

NGC said it “will continue to work with contractors through the remaining items that are necessary to obtain approvals and close out these projects, similar to the process we have successfully employed to reach resolution on previous projects in the district.”

Two previous construction liens totaling $147,500 were released in late April and May. The work was performed in February.

In the face of the uproar, Mayor Brandon Kelliher removed a proposal for more tax credits for the developers from consideration.

Kelliher said city officials will not consider the additional tax incentive until after the financial disputes with District 177 developers are largely resolved.

The council was geared to consider expanding the size of an “Enhanced Employment Area” of Dist. 177, where an additional 1.95% sales tax is charged on purchases. The money helps finance basic infrastructure such as utilities and paving. The developers are planning to add another mixed-use retail/apartment building to the district, providing 4,000 sq. ft. of retail space plus 61 apartments, at a cost of about $14 million.

Expanding the size of the “1.95% enhanced area” would generate about $3.3 million over 17 years, developers said.  

The council gave first-round approval to enlarging the area on May 21, in the first of three required rounds of approval. The vote was divided, 5-3.

For now, further consideration remains off the table.

© 2024 The North Platte Bulletin. All rights reserved.