NoMa leader wins round
June 9, 2007
Judge Bruce Lubeck, after listening to tales of turmoil in the North of Main district, sided with Rodman Jordan, ruling on Thursday that Jordan’s firm should continue to manage a patchwork of properties in NoMa.
Lubeck’s 16-page ruling is the first in what will likely be a drawn-out court case between Jordan’s firm and a group of business entities tied to Mark Fischer, Jordan’s former business partner in NoMa.
Fischer’s side claims Jordan did not properly handle financial matters, negotiated a kickback on a real-estate deal and charged higher management fees than were agreed to on some NoMa properties, among other allegations. Jordan denies the charges and plans to contest the lawsuit.
Lubeck says in his ruling that the businesses that rent in the properties in question are better off if Jordan’s side remains the property manager. Fischer’s side wanted Lubeck to stop Jordan from managing them. They include well-known properties like Rail Central.
But in his ruling, Lubeck says, "all business entities would be better off if operations occurred as they have historically rather than as they have for only the past few days." The comment refers to what was described in a Wednesday hearing as widespread confusion with the tenants. Lubeck also says Fischer’s side will not "suffer irreparable harm" if Jordan is kept in place for now.
Fischer’s attorney, Eric Lee, told Lubeck during the hearing some tenants are not paying their rent because they are unsure where to send the check.
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Lubeck says Fischer’s side can continue to try to remove Jordan as the manager and he says his ruling does not say Jordan’s side is the "proper" manager. Once the case proceeds, Lubeck says, there could be a "more sensible and gradual transition" toward management by Fischer’s side if he is able to show that is better.
The ruling followed the Wednesday hearing, when Lee was especially aggressive in his pleadings. He outlined the confusion Fischer’s side says is occurring. Lee said Jordan’s side continues to work with the tenants even though Fischer wants to run the properties.
"The harm is growing and evolving daily," Lee said, adding, "Tenants don’t know who to pay. They’re confused."
He said potential tenants might look elsewhere because of the case and said some tenants sent their rent checks to Fischer’s firm and other sent them to Jordan’s. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are in play but he was unsure of the total figure during the hearing.
"What do we have? We have a mess," Lee said.
But Michael O’Brien, Jordan’s attorney, described Jordan as the key person in the efforts to reshape NoMa into one of Park City’s hip destinations. He said Fischer tried to muscle Jordan out of the partnership, noting dealings for the prime Anderson Lumber land in the district. O’Brien claimed Fischer attempted to close a deal for the Anderson land outside the partnership.
He disputed claims that Jordan tried to collect an undisclosed fee on a real-estate deal and other charges Fischer’s side contends.
"All of Mr. Jordan’s fees have been well discussed in advance," O’Brien said.
Meanwhile, O’Brien said Jordan’s side continues to collect almost all of the most recent rent checks.
Jordan envisions NoMa one day being filled with lofts, boutiques and trendy restaurants. There is now a smattering of what he wants in NoMa, which is centered along Bonanza Drive and has long been seen as a spot for more mundane businesses like cleaners and offices.