IRVINE — A San Francisco company's plans to build a chain of virtual reality entertainment centers, including one at Fashion Island in Newport Beach, have gone awry because of a dispute with the firm hired to manage the first project.
Visions of Reality's initial arcade-like center, which would have used computer simulation technologies known as virtual reality, was to have opened last December. But legal and financial snags have halted work on the Fashion Island project.
Dan Rice, chairman of Visions of Reality, said his company has sued A.M. (Sonny) Beckham III, an Irvine promoter hired to build the flagship center. The fraud suit, which also names Beckham's wife, Joan, was filed April 1 in San Mateo County Superior Court.
Rice said Visions of Reality, a holding company that raised $12 million from investors, paid Beckham's firm, Black Diamond Group in Irvine, more than $1.9 million to build the first center.
"We made payments to Black Diamond, but it came to my attention that they weren't paying suppliers," Rice said.
Beckham was out of the country Friday and could not be reached for comment. His lawyer, Richard Brady, said Beckham denies any allegations of fraud.
Brady said Beckham will file a countersuit if the case moves to Orange County Superior Court.
A Costa Mesa architectural firm, Criterion Associates, filed a suit against Rice, Beckham and his wife, and their companies on April 27. Owner Henry Salvatore alleges that he is owed $154,000 for designing the game center.