Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 04:58 pm
Two of the four founding members of Milwaukee-based real estate development firm Irgens have filed a lawsuit against chief executive officer Mark Irgens and president Jaclynn Walsh.
Keith Redding and Kristine O’Meara, filed the lawsuit Friday in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, seeking $900,000 from the sale of the Whole Foods building on Milwaukee’s East Side.
The complaint alleges Irgens has refused to pay them the money following the sale, which Redding and O’Meara had an ownership stake in.
Redding and O’Meara issued this statement about the lawsuit: “This is a sad day, being forced into court by our former partner, Mark Irgens, a person who was once a respected colleague and business partner. To have him, and others who report to him, undermine that deep faith by unilaterally altering contracts, retaining funds that belong to us, and attempting to improperly convert those funds without our knowledge and consent is profoundly disturbing.
“These investments were part of our overall compensation at Irgens, and are an important component of our retirement income. At some point, Mark, with the apparent cooperation of those who report to him, seems to have decided that it was acceptable to alter our partnership agreements without our consent or knowledge. Irgens amended these agreements, putting in place a scheme that allowed him to use our money as he pleases, rather than distribute it to us. We were not informed of the changes until more than four months had passed.
“A court case like this is something we would have never imagined. Unfortunately, we are left with no other choice but to bring these matters before a judge.”
Redding alleges that in 2006, after working at the company for more than 15 years and having one of his best years, he was forced to sell his interest in the company and leave.
In 2012, O’Meara opted to retire early because “she could no longer stand the working environment,” according to the complaint.
Both retained their interests in numerous single-purpose entities formed over the years at Irgens Partners. Redding owned a portion of 16 entities and O’Meara owned a portion of more than 20.
Redding and O’Meara had a combined 26 percent membership interest in the building occupied by Whole Foods Market on Milwaukee’s East Side, at 2305 N. Prospect Ave., according to the complaint. The building was sold for $22.2 million in December to a Seattle-based investor.
Three months after the sale, Redding and O’Meara were still not given their share of the proceeds from the sale, according to the complaint.
Irgens sold a portion of the building that includes the Whole Foods store and parking ramp below. The Prospect Medical Commons and above ground parking ramp was owned by IDP Glendale Medical Development Partners, LLC, which is also named in the lawsuit.
Mark Irgens issued the following statement Friday:
“To be clear, Irgens always acts in a responsible manner to meet its fiduciary responsibilities to investors and partners. While this dispute is unfortunate, it reflects what Irgens believes to be a shortsighted view of well-established investor and partner agreements within the organization that ensure an ability to meet the collective interests of all stakeholders in various projects. Irgens understands the complexities of partnership agreements and, as it always does, will continue to meet the interests of its lenders, tenants, and equity investors.”