While executives winding down the troubled Steller business return calls to the agents who are marketing their properties for sale – it appears they are putting off correspondence from others, who they owe money to.
Steller has vacated a Moorabbin warehouse just six months into its lease and is not communicating with the property manager, Tsimos Commercial Real Estate.
The local developer, until recently controlled by Nicholas Smedley and Simon Pitard, has already benefited from having six-months rent free at 32-44 Keys Road – an industrial site where it manufactured building goods.
It started paying rent from January, 2019, on a lease expiring next July.
Last month, however, Steller vacated the site – abandoning its rental agreement, worth $240,000 per annum to the landlord.
Mr Pitard was one of the guarantors on the rental agreement.
“We’ve issued them notices, written to directors (and) issued default notices, but the silence is deafening,” Tsimos managing director Steven Tsimos told the Leader, which is reporting the Moorabbin lease in this item.
“We usually try and work through issues when people are having a tough time but in this instance, we’ve had zero communication and they’ve just gone and left the place in a mess with steel and steel work lying around”.
The landlord has taken back possession of 32-44 Keys Road, which Tsimos is now marketing for rent.
Also alarming – is that Steller appears to be ignoring apartment owners regarding its building’s defects.
“I am having trouble reaching them in regards to defects in the building,” one owner, Melinda Cleland, was quoted as saying in the Leader item. “I have concerns as to how this entity will honour their liability under the act”.
John Hurst, who is a spokesperson for Mr Smedley this year, appears to be handpassing his client’s responsibility – saying he can’t communicate about defects, because the construction arm was owned by Mr Pitard.
Leader said Mr Pitard ignored numerous requests for comment before it ran its story.
Several industry sources have suggested to realestatesource.com.au that a class action against Mr Smedley and Mr Pitard regarding building defects, and delivery, is upcoming.
Creditors, such as the owner of 32-44 Keys Road, Moorabbin, may also pursue Steller through the courts for money back.
Steller has actively been listing sites for sale in recent weeks, including 200 Wells Street, South Melbourne, 451-461 Hampton Road, Hampton, 1 Brighton Road, St Kilda (a site where the Greyhound Hotel once stood), and 12 and 18 Craig Street, in East Keilor.
The high-profile Continental Hotel in Sorrento, which Steller co-controls, is also quietly being touted for sale, as we reported exclusively last Thursday.
Interestingly, more than one well placed source has indicated to realestatesource.com.au that Steller is likely to retain property, even after paying debts following this sell-down.