ADDRESS: 3155 N Williams Ave. and 25 N Fargo St.
YEAR BUILT: Under construction
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 90,998 and 63,275
MARKET VALUE: $11.8 million and $1.6 million
OWNERS: Solterra Strata LLC and Fargo Apartment LLC
HOW LONG THEY’VE BEEN EMPTY: They’ve never been occupied.
WHY THEY’RE EMPTY: The developer says the construction firm shut down.
The two tall apartment buildings on North Williams Avenue at Fargo Street look like ghosts, clad as they are in bright white Tyvek sheathing and nothing else.
Some of the windows billow with plastic covers. Netting along the chain-link fence is covered in graffiti. People who look more like squatters than construction workers walk in and out of would-be retail space on the bottom floor of the southern tower.
A cherry picker stands idle on North Fargo, fenced to keep traffic out.
At first glance, one would think the boom that turned once-sleepy North Williams into a canyon of apartments had gone bust. But a lawsuit filed by the owners, two entities controlled by Seattle developer Vibrant Cities, hangs the blame on its contractor, Seabold Construction Co. of Beaverton.
In a complaint filed Jan. 23 in the U.S. District Court for Oregon, the two Seattle entities—Solterra Strata LLC and Fargo Apartment LLC—say that Seabold shut down in December and started liquidating assets. Solterra and Fargo say Seabold stiffed subcontractors, telling them to contact Solterra and Fargo about getting paid. Worse yet, Solterra and Fargo say that Seabold pocketed $2.5 million that was supposed to go to subcontractors.
“Solterra continues to look into the amounts owed to subcontractors and suppliers and expects to discover that Seabold failed to pay much more than what is known,” the complaint says.
Subcontractors, including Johnson Air Products and Crescent Electric Supply, have been filing liens for unpaid bills against Solterra Strata and Fargo Apartment since December.
“They stole money from us,” Vibrant Cities chief executive James Wong said in an interview. Vibrant Cities sent money to Seabold to pay subcontractors for their September work, Wong says, but Seabold kept it.
Seabold didn’t return phone calls seeking comment. The company is owned by the husband-and-wife team Kevin and Hailey Owens. Seabold was founded by Hailey’s father, Harry Seabold, her grandfather (also named Harry), and an uncle. Harry the younger died in January 2023 at the age of 69, leaving the Owenses in charge.
“Harry loved the construction industry,” said a paid obituary in The Oregonian. “Until the time of his passing, Harry could be seen with his yellow notepad, his old school adding machine and favored blue pen, crunching numbers and making plans for the next big project.”
Wong became involved with the Williams properties in 2014, when he was a partner at SolTerra, another developer. Wong and SolTerra founder Brian Heather parted ways in late 2016, and Wong’s new firm, Vibrant Cities, took control of the Williams Street properties. Heather kept the SolTerra brand, but the LLC that owns 3155 N. Williams retains “Solterra” in its name.
“We have nothing to do with those projects,” said SolTerra executive vice president Danya Feltzin said in an interview.
Wong says Vibrant Cities has hired some Seabold employees and subcontractors and is pressing forward with the project.
“We’ll complete the buildings ourselves,” Wong says. “Almost all the subs want to come back. It’s tough times, everyone wants to work. We’re happy to create jobs.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story said that the two LLCs that own the Williams Street properties were controlled by SolTerra Capital. They are controlled by Vibrant Cities, a company founded by former SolTerra partner James Wong. WW regrets the error.