RACINE — Machinery Row’s developer, Rodney Blackwell of Financial District Properties, has characterized a lawsuit filed against him here as a retaliatory, nuisance action by someone Blackwell and FDP recently sued in Kansas City.
In a complaint dated Thursday and filed in Racine County Circuit Court, Michael Knight alleges he and Blackwell agreed to enter into certain “exclusive” development agreements and that those provided that the two men form a “single specific purpose entity” to oversee and own each “development opportunity.”
In the complaint Knight claims that in January 2014 the two men agreed to pursue the development along Water Street now known as Machinery Row. He claims his services on the Machinery Row project included meeting with public officials, negotiating with public entities, working with lenders on project financing and preparing project pro forms and projections.
Blackwell, however, said he is sole owner of Machinery Row as a limited liability company. “He and I don’t have any agreements,” he said.
“I have no idea what this is about,” Blackwell said. “He has not worked with us on this project at any time. I am suing him in Kansas City and I assume this is some type of frivolous — I don’t even know what to call it.” Blackwell’s lawsuit naming Knight and others, filed April 21, involves a project in which Knight was a 12 percent investor, Blackwell said. The suit accuses him of fraud and other malfeasance.
“We have no oral agreement of any kind” pertaining to Machinery Row, Blackwell added.
As for Knight allegedly meeting with public officials, Blackwell remarked, “Can you just give me one?”
Neither Mayor John Dickert nor City Administrator Tom Friedel were immediately available for comment.
Machinery Row is a $65 million or more plan to redevelop two former J.I. Case manufacturing buildings from the early 1900s into market-rate loft apartments and commercial space.
Knight of Kansas City also claims he is entitled to 20 percent of any developer fees and of any earnings from a completed project.