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Rendering of The Buckingham building at the Grand Central Mimico project in west-end Toronto.Vandyk Properties

Unpaid contractors and unsatisfied buyers are demanding answers from a Toronto-area developer that is years behind on delivering multiple condominium projects.

Vandyk Properties and owner John C. Vandyk have a decades-long history of building primarily low- and mid-rise residential multifamily projects. According to court records, in recent years it has secured hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to rapidly expand. But work has stalled on a half-dozen Vandyk projects.

Among the vendors seeking payments from Vandyk are its primary architects at Kohn Partnership Architects, as well as an array of concrete, excavation, electrical and formwork construction companies.

“They keep making it out that it’s not their fault,” said Kevin O’Neill, president at Strong Foundation Inc., who says he hasn’t been paid in a year and is now owed more than $300,000 for work he completed on The Buckingham building at Grand Central Mimico, a three-tower project adjacent to the Mimico GO Transit station operated by Ontario’s provincial transit agency Metrolinx.

He says his attempts to discuss the issue with Vandyk have been met with multiple delays and ultimately legal threats when he told the company he would take his complaints public.

“They kept saying ‘You’re wrecking it for everyone,’” said Mr. O’Neill.

“Any collateral damage between Vandyk and Metrolinx due to your actions will be met with the fullest extent of the law and we will come after you for any and all damages from the fallout of damages to Vandyk,” John Vandyk Jr. wrote in an e-mail to Mr. O’Neill. John Jr. is a managing director at the company and son of founder John C. Vandyk.

According to credit reports, there are three liens seeking more than $800,000 for unpaid work on the Grand Central Mimico site. There are at least 739 condo apartments planned, though Mr. O’Neill said construction has been stopped since the spring.

There are other Vandyk sites seemingly stalled. The Backyard condos in Etobicoke has one phase left to build with 234 apartments incomplete. Work has stopped and more than $12-million is allegedly owing to concrete, electrical and formwork companies. Plycon Forming placed a construction lien on the company in September for $9.8-million.

In Brampton, Ont., a 331-unit townhouse project called UPtowns at Heart Lake has seen a half-dozen contractors file construction liens seeking more than $9-million for unpaid work, the largest being Roni Excavating Ltd., which is seeking $4.8-million.

There are hundreds of preconstruction buyers and real estate agents waiting on Vandyk as well.

Akshay Sehgal is a condo sales specialist with Re/Max Plus City Team who said that agents who sold preconstruction units at Vandyk sites are still waiting for partial commissions that have been owed to them for years.

“We did 45 deals there [at Grand Central Mimico]. The contract says we were supposed to get paid within 60 days and he did not pay us. Now it’s been over two years,” said Mr. Sehgal.

With most preconstruction sales contracts, an agent’s commission (which could be as high as 4 per cent of the purchase price) is doled out at specific milestones: a portion after the sale, a portion after significant construction has been completed and the final share when the condo registers and buyers close on purchases. In the case of Vandyk’s Mimico project, according to Mr. Sehgal, many of those initial and interim payments have been withheld since 2022.

He estimates his sales team is owed close to $600,000. In December, 2022 and again in July, 2023 he received letters from Vandyk deferring payment: “With the sudden increase to interest rates compounded with unprecedented supply chain delays, labour disruptions and material price increases these past two years, we are in the unfortunate position of delaying your commission payment,” the letter reads.

“I’m not asking anybody to cry for real estate agents … I know about 40-50 agents that did that and did not get paid,” Mr. Sehgal said.

Hundreds of buyers are also trapped. The UPtowns project in Brampton was initially sold in 2017 with a completion date set for 2020. During the pandemic, Vandyk notified the buyers of two unavoidable delays and is now promising units will be completed in 2025, eight years after some initial deposits were given.

“I’m just hoping they are not going to go bankrupt,” said Dean Khan, who worries about getting his deposit back and or some day getting his condo.

“I go there on a daily basis to look, to see what’s moved,” said Casendra Vijaya, who purchased in 2017. “I’ve been renting now and I lived with my parents for longer. … I should have bought a house by now, but my money is stuck.” She also recently received unsolicited advice from a Vandyk receptionist when she contacted the company for an explanation as to why work has stopped at the site: “She told me just stop going and looking.”

Vandyk has loan commitments with an array of private lenders.

The Mimico site has a $46-million loan from MCAP Financial Corp., and a $120-million loan from Westmount Guarantee Services Inc. registered against it.

The Uptowns site has a $45.7-million loan from Trisura Guarantee Insurance Co. registered against it as well as $140-million from MCAP and $68.7-million from Kingsett Mortgage Corp.

Vandyk Properties and its lenders declined to comment.

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