Hotel Northland arguments compared to "divorce proceedings"

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) It was a night Alderman Bill Galvin compared to divorce proceedings.

Dennis Doucette
Dennis Doucette argues with Green Bay's mayor at the April 5 city council meeting

More than two hours of Wednesday night’s council meeting was spent arguing—sometimes shouting, threatening lawsuits, and accusing misconduct—among people invested or upset with setbacks on the Hotel Northland project in downtown Green Bay.

Mayor Jim Schmitt says the most recent appraisal puts the project at $50 million—$6 million more than the last appraisal. There is still $13 million in funding unaccounted for, although the fix or that could be on its way.

“I’ve secured a new senior lender,” the mayor announced at the meeting—adding he wouldn’t be publicly naming said lender, but the council members had the information in their emails.

Soon though, the announcement hit a snag. Throughout a back and forth about whether or not the lender should be named aloud, the topic of hotel ownership arose. The issue at hand is a partnership or former partnership between Mike Frantz and Keith Harenda (depending on who you ask).

The two “could not get along” according to the mayor, but Harenda believes he’s the owner under the company KPH Construction, while Frantz still claims to own half of the multi-million dollar project. A judge will ultimately rule on the matter on Friday, April 14, in Brown County Court.

Back to the senior lender: the mayor indicated that there might not be a guaranteed senior lender—should the judge rule that both men are still owners. “I would have concerns over the senior lender because the senior lender I think it under the understanding that this is owned by Mr. Heranda so that's the bigger concern I would have,” he told the council.

Heranda was not at the meeting, but someone who says he’s battling him in court was at the meeting—Dennis Doucette. Doucette’s temper flared when the mayor mentioned that he allegedly had requested a $10,000 loan. Doucette referred to the mayor as a liar and asked the council, “This is the leader of our city?!”

Then Doucette took shots at the actual project, of which he was once the general manager. “This project has been dumbed down considerably, and in fact the appraiser even made mention that it reminded her of a glorified Hilton Garden Inn,” he said.

Doucette claims Herenda owes his workers money. He believes Herenda is a shady person who fudged his paperwork by $900,000—and thinks the city should foreclose on their part of the agreement.

“There's so much desperation to get this thing underway that all concern for what you're going to get has gone out the window. And this council has the ability to simply foreclose. I mean, there's been ample, ample bad behavior to warrant foreclosure,” said Doucette.

Afterwards, Galvin gave Action 2 News his frank opinion about the two-plus hour fight. “This reminds me of being a cop, okay we have a couple going through a divorce, and they are going to give us each of their side and they are going to believe it. We are going to get information from both of them that they truly believe to be factual, but what I have found out from my job before, sometimes the truth lies in the middle and I think that is what we are going to find out here in the end,” Galvin said.

Still—the mayor remains positive about the project, saying construction workers will be back inside the building in early May, and he plans for the hotel to open in September.