UrbanToronto's Real Estate forum is buzzing with news that the developer behind North York's Centrium condo/hotel/retail development, announced in 2009, has gone bankrupt. Condo investors who paid deposits of up to $5,000 are out of luck as a result, with no one able to trace the money or to contact the various principals in the development. Rumour has it one of the project's lawyers, Meerai Cho, transferred $12M in deposit funds to Joseph Lee, the developer, "in error". Lee then blew town with it, possibly to Korea. The UT thread is good reading as a cautionary tale; Centrium was launched by a previously- unknown developer with no track record to stand on, and early on in the thread some more experienced posters advise new buyers to be cautious. As the pages of posts build, there's a mounting sense of dread as, one by one, the would-be buyers realize their money is probably gone forever.
UPDATE: A representative from Tarion, the Ontario government's new-home warranty corporation, sends us the following: Tarion Warranty Corporation is asking purchasers who placed a deposit on a Centrium condo unit to call Tarion to make a deposit protection claim. Deposits paid for new condo units are protected by Tarion up to a maximum of $20,000.
· Centrium discussion thread [Urban Toronto]
· What's in store for Toronto's condo market? [Urbanation]
· Arrested Development archives [Curbed Toronto]