Fort Worth police group feels ‘duped’ by contractor over stalled building project

Fort Worth police group feels ‘duped’ by contractor over stalled building project
  1. Fort Worth police group feels ‘duped’ by contractor over stalled building project
    Mantford Hawkins roams the stage during a speech at Southern Methodist University, much like the late Apple founder and visionsary Steve Jobs. Wearing an untucked blue shirt and blue jeans, … Click to Continue…

Mantford Hawkins roams the stage during a speech at Southern Methodist University, much like the late Apple founder and visionsary Steve Jobs.

Wearing an untucked blue shirt and blue jeans, his bald head shining, Hawkins speaks prophetically during the October 2015 Tedx Talk event about structures that make more energy than they use. In particular, he praises the Fort Worth Police Officers’ Association for wanting to build such a place near the central business district.

With an artist rendering of a shiny, five-story building as a backdrop, Hawkins says the “strong, courageous leaders of this non-profit” are “giving their officers a better place as a destination by taking a chance to do something different, bucking the system. Not complying with the status quo.”

Ironically, as Hawkins gave this presentation, the $4.4 million POA headquarters, which was supposed to be near completion, wasn’t much more than an empty lot surrounded by a chain link fence.

It darn sure ain't right. If you give people money to build their project you ought to use their money to build their project, Chris Lyster, one of the POA’s lawyers

In court documents filed last month in a lawsuit against Hawkins and his associates at 4D Circle in Fort Worth, attorneys representing the POA say that the company not only miscalculated the building’s size by 10,000 square feet, but they then took more than $1 million the association had paid them and used it on other projects.

In one instance, they say some of the money was used to pay for an associate’s divorce.

“It darn sure ain’t right. If you give people money to build their project you ought to use their money to build their project,” said Chris Lyster, one of the POA’s lawyers. “The police were duped in this thing.”

Last year, when the POA filed its lawsuit, Hawkins declined comment. Reached last week via email, all Hawkins would say is that “I and all of 4D Circle have no comment at this time.”

Attorney Frank Hill, representing Hawkins and 4D Circle, filed documents denying “each and every, all and singular,” accusations by the POA and demanding “strict proof.”

“They respectfully deny the allegations and I’m not going to say anything more than that,” Hill said.

“Net zero energy”

For the POA, the new headquarters at 10th and Collier streets was going to be a spectacular replacement for its unassuming, one-level, 9,000-square-foot home. Since they owned property free and clear — and made money by renting out space to a tenant — so close to downtown, they wanted to do more.

As they were exploring what to do, the POA was approached by Hawkins and others at 4D Circle — then known as Enoetics — about designing, developing and constructing a “net zero energy” structure, or one which the National Institute of Building Sciences says produces as much energy as it uses over the course of a year.

The building would have four floors of office space for the association, training space and a gym. The street level was supposed to have 3,500 square feet of retail space.

Hawkins’ team presented itself as a group of architects, engineer and subcontrators with the “skill and experience to design and construct the proposed building. They told the POA that by leasing the extra space — they already had a list of proposed tenants — the headquarters would pay for itself, the lawsuit states.

4D Circle would construct the building for $4.4 million, including the soft/carrying costs during the construction process such as architectural and engineering fees, and the structure would be built in less than a year including the time to demolish their old headquarters, records show. The company also agreed to provide a performance bond protecting the POA from any additional expense.

4D Circle was vetted by the POA. Mantford Hawkins says most of their team is made up of individuals with military and law enforcement experiences and on the company’s website, Hawkins is listed as graduating from the Citadel with experience leading projects worth as much as $5 billion.

“The FWPOA was essentially told that they couldn’t lose if they chose 4DC,” the lawsuit states.

4D Circle was vetted by the POA, Lyster said, and in the TED Talk video, Hawkins says most of their team had military and law enforcement experience. On the company’s website, Hawkins is listed as having graduated from the Citadel with experience leading projects worth as much as $5 billion and international in scale.

“They did check them out. These guys are very effective,” Lyster said. “But they were clearly misled.”

Based on these promises, the POA signed a “fixed price” contract with 4D Circle in late 2014 with work scheduled to begin in early 2015. Work was to be done in phases, with payment made upon completion of each stage. To get things off the ground, the POA paid 4D Circle $1 million up front.

Multi-million shortfall

The old headquarters at 904 Collier St. was torn down and site work was done, including some some electrical and plumbing, Lyster said. But soon, the project fell behind schedule.

Eventually it was discovered that the person portrayed to them as the “architect” for the project, Abraham Achar, was not licensed and that the plans his company, International Business Systems, provided could not be used for construction, “putting the project far behind from the beginning,” the lawsuit states. The lawsuit further accuses Achar of using the $200,000 he received for the project to pay for his divorce. An attorney representing Achar has filed documents denying the allegations against his client.

After a licensed architect was hired, it was discovered that the original building design contained 43,000 square feet, or about 10,000 more square feet than the POA agreed to. And an experienced project supervisor brought in later found that 4D Circle had an “utter and complete lack of experience and ability” for the job, the l…

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