The former owners of the Apex Building being considered for a new PawSox ballpark in Pawtucket argue in a Superior Court lawsuit that the site's current owner demanded $6.4 million for unnecessary environmental cleanup costs.
According to the lawsuit, Environmental Land Usage Restrictions in 2014 "resolved all prior issues that the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management had concerning contaminated soils," and since then, the owner of the Apex Building has "received no notices of violations, demands for cleanup, or demands from any state or federal agency for any further action to be taken at" at the Apex Building site or a nearby tire center "to address contaminated soils."
Despite that, the former owners of the Apex Building assert in the lawsuit that the current ownership demanded last December a payment of $6.452,363 "for alleged anticipated environmental cleanup costs that have only been roughly estimated by the Defendants." [italics in original]
"A significant portion of the purported estimates would be for work completely unnecessary pursuant to the ELUR's, and would require" the former owners "to restore the Apex Building and Tire Center properties to a pristine condition, which they have not been in since, approximately, the latter part of the 18th Century," according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed in January by Providence lawyer Michael A. Kelly, on behalf of Teknor Apex Company; Pawtucket Financial Corporation; Apex Warwick; and Apex Massachusetts. The defendant is Apex Development Company. Andrew Gates, the owner of the Apex Building, is head of the Apex Companies.
According to a statement released by both sides in the dispute, "The litigation is related to a long-running business dispute that involves multiple properties in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The Apex Companies have been working with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management on the environmental issues that exist on the Pawtucket property, they are publicly documented, and have been discussed with the Pawtucket Red Sox."
"This litigation is in no way impacting our ongoing negotiations with the Pawtucket Red Sox ownership group about the use of a portion of our property near downtown as a potential location for the team’s new ballpark," the statement continues. "We look forward to continuing these conversations."
According to the suit, Apex Development build the Apex Building in 1969. It goes on to say, "In 2000, the interests of certain 'Apex' entities, and the owners thereof, diverged from one another."
(Note: Jon Fain, chairman, CEO and principal owner of Teknor Apex, is a board member of Rhode Island Public Radio.)
The PawSox have identified the Apex Building as the team's preferred location for a new baseball stadium.
The team did not have an immediate comment on the lawsuit.
Earlier this week, the PawSox released a "park within a park" concept for the site, calling for a series of recreation uses beyond baseball. The team has yet to offer any details on what the project might cost, and how it will be paid for, although the PawSox are expected to offer a proposal before the end of the current General Assembly session.
The Raimondo administration, mindful of how a proposal for a taxpayer-funded downtown Providence stadium met with sharp public disapproval in 2015, has signaled support for what has been called a revenue-neutral approach.
This story has been updated.