Omaha Developer Leslie’s LK Waterloo Sues City, Ramada, over Failed Convention Center/Hotel Deal

It was expected, and a Nebraska-based developer is now suing the City of Waterloo and the Ramada Hotel, over his failed attempt to buy and renovate the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, downtown.

LK Waterloo filed suit this week in Cedar Rapids federal court against the city and Watermark Hotel Equities, which owns the Ramada, across the street from the convention center.
LK Waterloo, a company led by Edwin Leslie of Omaha, is claiming it suffered financial damages because the city and Watermark breached agreements for LK Waterloo to take over the dual complex. LK Waterloo does not ask for a specific dollar amount, but indicated it had spent more than $850,000 before the project fell apart in October.

The city council voted 4 to nothing with three abstentions in July of 2017 in favor of an agreement with Leslie’s firm for a $20-million renovation of the convention center & hotel. The city would donate the center and give tax incentives & grants to Leslie, contingent on him getting financing and completing the work.

Leslie’s company also had an agreement to acquire and operate the Ramada, and LK Waterloo managed the hotel and center until last October, when the city and Watermark ended the agreements. An architect and food distributor are suing LK Waterloo for unpaid bills.
LK’s suit against the city and Ramada also claims the city failed to provide parking and building repairs, refused to recognize the company’s liquor license, and benefited from events booked by LK, as well as improvements made to both buildings.

It also accuses city councilman Bruce Jacobs of pressuring Leslie to use the bank Jacobs works for, and then bad-mouthing the developer when Leslie declined to do business with Jacobs’ employer. Jacobs has denied the allegations and he abstained from voting on the LK Waterloo contract.