Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

South Capital Construction sues many over Trinity Town Center

TRINITY — Lots of companies have come calling for payment for their work on the stalled Trinity Town Center. To emerge on top of the heap, Bill Planes' general contractor firm is suing nearly everyone involved in the construction — including his other company that owns the entire project.

South Capital Construction is asking a judge to order the sale of Trinity Town Center and give it first dibs on the proceeds.

That would allow South Capital to muscle its way to the front of the money line, ahead of the lender that holds a $47 million mortgage, the nearly 50 subcontractors owed millions of dollars for unpaid or partially paid work, and the owner of the project — Trinity Town Center LLLP, Planes' development company.

The lawsuit, filed in September in Pasco County, is the latest development that raises questions about the fate of the once highly anticipated Main Street-style shopping complex at Trinity Boulevard and Little Road.

Since the summer of 2008, the project has been mired in financial and legal problems, which set off publicly when subcontractors began complaining about bounced checks and lack of full payment for their work.

South Capital, which is responsible for paying the subcontractors, argues in its lawsuit that ultimately it is a victim of New Jersey-based lender Kennedy Funding.

Kennedy, the lawsuit argues, never fully funded Trinity Town Center. Trinity Town Center, in turn, could not fully pay South Capital.

Kennedy still owes Trinity Town Center nearly $2.5 million, according to the lawsuit. Kennedy officials have said they didn't release certain funds because Trinity Town Center did not meet some contractual obligations.

South Capital, in its lawsuit, asks the court to order that the property be sold first to pay its lien, which was filed in July and totals $7.5 million.

Worth Blackwell, a St. Petersburg lawyer representing South Capital, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

But lawyers for some of the subcontractors — now defendants in South Capital's lawsuit — are crying foul.

Steel subcontractor GMF Construction says that the $2.5 million that Kennedy allegedly owes Trinity Town Center is still less than the $7.5 million worth of bills owed to subcontractors on the project.

"Therefore Plaintiff received funds for the project but failed to disburse them to GMF and other subcontractors," lawyers for GMF wrote in a Sept. 25 response to the complaint.

Mason company BlockBusters has asked the court to throw out the South Capital complaint, calling it a "collusive" action between South Capital and Trinity Town Center, which share the same officers.

Jawdet Rubaii, lawyer for BlockBusters, said in an interview that there are too many unanswered questions about what happened to the money that Kennedy did release to Trinity Town Center.

Kennedy released nearly $25 million to Trinity out of the $27 million it requested.

"Where'd the money go?" Rubaii said. "It sure seems like it needs to be investigated."

Rubaii said he worries that some of the smaller subcontractors on the project, particularly those who can't afford to hire lawyers, will lose out if they don't file a response in the case.

"I don't think they understand the significance," he said.

South Capital is going after Kennedy in Pinellas County, and Trinity Town Center LLLP is chasing the lender down in federal bankruptcy court, piggybacking onto an unrelated case.

Employees file lawsuit

Bill Planes, a businessman well-known in Tarpon Springs, is also facing other legal challenges. One of them? He and his wife, Regina, are being sued in federal court by six former employees of their Keystone Road veterinary clinic.

Those former employees say they routinely received paychecks that bounced, were not paid minimum wage in some cases and were not paid overtime.

In their August lawsuit, the former employees say that the clinic, called CVC Veterinary Centers, made a profit and should have had enough to compensate its workers.

But the lawsuit says Planes and his wife had debts related to their other companies, including Trinity Town Center and South Capital.

"William and Regina Planes directed the profits … to pay other corporate and personal debts," the suit says.

In their response, the couple deny those allegations.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at or (727) 869-6247.

South Capital Construction sues many over Trinity Town Center 10/31/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 31, 2009 2:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jim McElwain: Florida Gators have received death threats after 3-3 start


    GAINESVILLE - The Florida Gators' 3-3 start is causing some fans to become irrational - even by college football standards.

    UF coach Jim McElwain said there have been death threats made against people related to his program.
  2. Megyn Kelly hits back at O'Reilly's claim no one complained


    Bill O'Reilly, forced out at Fox News over allegations of sexual harassment, has said no one ever filed a complaint about his behavior with human resources or the legal department in the 20 years he was at the network.

    Bill O'Reilly at the Newseum in Washington D.C., on October 6, 2016.
  3. Myeshia Johnson, the wife of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, looks down at his casket during his burial at Fred Hunter's Hollywood Memorial Gardens in Hollywood, Fla., on Saturday. [Mike Stocker/Sun Sentinel/TNS]
  4. Jobsite goes all out, gets results with annual musical, 'The Threepenny Opera'


    TAMPA — As the house lights dimmed for the second act, burglars and pickpockets, prostitutes and scam artists weaved between the little tables of the Jaeb Theater, warning customers they'd best wind down their talking and silence their phones. This was done with a wink but the point was made. This is elitism …

    Miscreants in Jobsite Theater's The Threepenny Opera, which runs through Nov. 12, include (from left) Amy E. Gray, Jonathan Harrison, Giselle Muise, Chris Jackson, Fo'i Meleah, and Derrick Phillips. Courtesy of Jobsite Theater.
  5. AHN alum, still shining on stage, returns with 'On Your Feet!'

    Human Interest


    Times Correspondent


    Back when Alma Cuervo was a high-school performer at the Academy of the Holy Names — when AHN students were taken by their talented, charismatic, big-hearted classmate — everyone just knew she was headed for much bigger things in …

    Alma Cuervo as Consuelo (Gloria Estefan’s grand-mother) during On Your Feet in New York, 2015.