Article Courtesy of The Tampa Bay Times
By Susan Taylor Martin
Published November 26, 2017
ST. PETERSBURG — Nearly three dozen workers at ONE St.
Petersburg, a luxury condo tower under construction in the heart of
downtown, haven't been paid in weeks and are owed thousands of dollars.
With the holidays nearing, some of the men say they are
so short of money their phone service has been cut off, they
face eviction and they can't afford a Thanksgiving spread
for their families.
"I'm just in really bad shape," said John Obermeier, who
said he is owed $5,000. "I really need that money."
He and the others were working for MIK Construction, a South
Florida company hired as a subcontractor on the 41-story
tower where condo prices reach nearly $4 million. MIK's
owner, Michael Dagen, said his company had to pull out of
the project because it hadn't been paid for jobs elsewhere
and couldn't meet payroll in St. Petersburg.
"I'm hurting as well," Dagen said, but added: "I am not
saying they aren't owed money. They are owed money."
At 41 stories, the 253-unit ONE St. Petersburg tower at
Central Avenue and First Street N has already transformed
the city's skyline and will be the tallest building on
Florida's West Coast when finished next year. It is a
project of Kolter, a West Palm Beach company that also
developed the Hyatt Place hotel that recently opened next
The main contractor on the job, KAST Construction of West
Palm Beach, hired MIK last year to do masonry work. Started
in 2005, MIK has been involved in other large projects
including the $350 renovation of the Miami Dolphins stadium.
Dagen said KAST turned to another company last week when
his company couldn't pay its workers.
Construction workers Robert Cabral, left, and John
Obermeier, both of Hudson, have not been paid in weeks. They are
masons for the ONE St. Petersburg luxury condo building, shown in
background, in the city's downtown.
"This is an unfortunate part of construction —- you get over-extended," he
said. "We've had a lot of projects go bad and we're owed a lot of money from
a lot of people. We informed KAST we needed help, we told them we couldn't
afford to continue."
Kolter, Kast and the new subcontractor, Advanced Masonry Systems of
Sarasota, did not return calls for comment.
Obermeier, who had been commuting from Pasco County to his $23-an-hour job
at ONE St. Petersburg, said KAST apparently knew there were problems at
least two weeks ago but didn't say anything to MIK's workers.
Obermeier said he was on a construction elevator with a KAST project manager
who asked him if MIK's checks were clearing. Obermeier told him "yes," not
realizing that the check he had deposited with his bank would fail to clear
a few days later.
"I thought that was odd," he said of the manager's query. "That's one of the
reasons I'm so angry. If I'd known (of problems), I could have cut my losses
and gone somewhere else."
Kenneth Tilgman, who lives in Lakeland, said he received one check for
$2,000 from MIK that bounced. He is owed that plus another $2,000.
"I'm supposed to be evicted out of my plac" this week, he said.
Samuel Connors, a father of five who says he too is owed $4,000, said his
cell phone service had been cut off for non payment and that he is behind on
his car loan.
"I've been on that project since September," Connors said, speaking on a
friend's phone. "The last time I was paid was Nov. 3 but that check
Dagen acknowledged that checks bounced, but said the workers had been told
not to cash them because of insufficient funds. The workers deny they were
According to emails that Connors forwarded to the Tampa Bay Times, KAST
maintains that workers need to deal with the bonding company that is
responsible for paying MIK's labor and suppliers in event of default.
"The proper process is for you and the others to file a bond claim with
them," said a KAST email to one worker.
Obermeier wonders how many days or weeks that will take. In the meantime, he
received a text from Advanced Masonry Systems this morning telling him and
another former MIK employee, Robert Cabral, to report for work Monday. But
it didn't say anything about the thousands they are owed.
"The insurance for my truck lapsed because I couldn't pay it," Obermeier
said. "I can't (afford to) pick up my laundry. Yet this is OK with corporate
America. All these rich people getting paid and how are we supposed to have