Court names Harenda owner of Hotel Northland -- with conditions

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A Brown County judge settled the question of who owns the Hotel Northland currently under renovation in downtown Green Bay.

The battle over the unfinished hotel headed to court Friday afternoon.

The judge put his foot down and said Keith Harenda is the sole owner of the Hotel Northland, but Harenda still has to fulfill a list of conditions in a settlement agreement with the previous owner, Michael Frantz.

"You are bound by stipulations and you have concurrent obligations to fulfill all the conditions in this settlement," said Judge William Atkinson, Brown County.

In the agreement, Harenda would buyout Frantz for a half a million dollars.

Recently unsealed court documents show an email between lawyers saying Harenda was going to ask the city for another half-million dollars to buy out Frantz. Harenda later withdrew the request, saying he doesn't need the city's help. After the emails became public, Mayor Jim Schmitt said the city didn't know that was what Harenda wanted the money for.

Friday, Harenda said he still doesn't need the city's help and will find another way to pay Frantz.

Spokeswoman Brigette Breitenbach said, "The project is in good shape. It's an expensive project at this point, because the cost of carrying without having a senior lender has fallen directly on KPH shoulders. We need to get moving. This hotel needs to get built and open so we can create that cash flow."

"The loan from the city was part of the settlement agreement very specifically, but I don't think we would have any problem if it came from somewhere else," Frantz said.

However, before Harenda pays Frantz, Frantz and his company called FCI are required to get all other parties involved to sign-off on the buyout.

In court, it was made clear that neither parties have fulfilled their conditions in the settlement and they both blame each other.

"This isn't my first rodeo. i am not going to give up my rights and ownership without a settlement," said Frantz. "There was a settlement in place, an agreement, and it hasn't been executed. All i want is them to execute it and they are blaming me. Somehow they are twisting it around and at the end of the day, it's not the case."

"The $500,000 that is part of the settlement agreement also relates to some of the things FCI needs to do on their side," said Breitenbach. "In other words, they were supposed to secure a number of releases from FCI partners and that hasn't occured yet. so we have some work ahead of us on that front."

The judge didn't set a timetable for when the conditions need to be met, but Harenda says the sooner the better because then they can secure a new senior lender. Earlier this year, a lender pulled out of the project, taking with them $12.8 million.

Mayor Schmitt said it was going to be difficult to find another lender to sign on if ownership of the hotel was in question, but Schmitt said last week he was confident another lender had been lined up.

Now that the ownership question is settled, Harenda says he hopes to have construction crews back in the beginning of May and open the historical hotel this fall.



 
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