KINGMAN – Two Las Vegas businessmen who banded together to partner with the City of Kingman in the proposed development of the Interstate 40 Rancho Santa Fe Interchange are engaged in a bitter and messy legal dispute over property. At the heart of the battle are William Lenhart and William Plise, 50/50 partners when KDP Manager LLC was originally formed and organized in Nevada in Aug., 2019.
“KDP Manager LLC (Buyer) is an entity established for the purpose of acquiring and developing approximately 1,300 acres in the City of Kingman under a Development Agreement (DA) with the City of Kingman,” said plaintiff attorney Neil Durrant in a complaint filed in Mohave County Superior Court on
Sept. 13, 2022.
Parallel litigation was filed in Clark County District Court in Nevada with arbitration taking place in Las Vegas.
Lenhart and Plise were managers of KDP Manager LLC while Lenhart is the manager of the manager of SDVIP VB LLC. Durrant contends that an operations dispute prompted negotiation resulting in a Dec. 22, 2022 Purchase Agreement (PA) involving KDP and Plise purchasing 650-acres from SDIP VB LLC.
The Durrant complaint asserts breach of contract and alleges Lenhart has obstructed the PA commitment to sell the acreage to KDP Manager. Attorneys have staked out opposing positions on legal complications and any significance resulting from what Durrant labels an inherent conflict of interest since Lenhart has interest in both KDP as a Buyer and SDIP as a Seller.
While Plise is relatively unknown in Kingman, Lenhart has a more visible public profile having served as a front man acquiring property and working to build relationships to nurture the project for many years.
That Lenhart contends Plise is trying to force him out and hijack his project is revealed in pleadings by defense counsel Ryan Rapp Pacheco & Kelly (RRPK).
RPPK said Lenhart secured 1,025 acres for the endeavor on his own and cultivated the project, but agreed to partner with Plise in KDP Manager more than 4 years ago because he lacked development and capital finance expertise. The City of Kingman entered into the 75-page DA with KDP Manager on Nov. 17, 2020.
The Durrant complaint asks the Court to compel performance under the PA and direct SDIP VB LLC to execute the property sale it has allegedly intentionally thwarted.
“Since March 31, 2022, Buyer has repeatedly conveyed to Seller its desire to close,” it said. “At no time has Seller terminated the Purchase Agreement or delivered the executed Assignment Certificates for Buyer’s inspection which would allow Buyer to close.”
A defense pleading claims that Plise is engaged in a takeover campaign following his failure on the funding front.
“It became clear that Plise would not be able to deliver on his representations and promises to obtain financing,” a March 1 RRPK pleading said. “Instead of recognizing his failure, Plise attempted to usurp control of KDP and the entire project … The lawsuit demonstrates that Plise is attempting to push Lenhart out of a project that he worked diligently for years.”
What, if any impact this unresolved legal dispute might have on the Traffic Interchange project is unknown.
The Durrant complaint said the sale as outlined in the PA is in the public interest. “If the Buyer is unable to purchase the subject property, the entire development as negotiated with the city is at risk,” it said.
An ADOT official said last week that the project would likely be ready to advertise for construction bids at the end of the fiscal year next summer.
In case arbitration efforts fail, Judge Kenneth Gregory has scheduled the original complaint for a trial setting conference in Kingman on July 11, 2024.
The Kingman City Council met behind closed doors regarding its DA with KDP Manager for about 45 minutes on Sept. 19. Interim City Manager Grady Miller said another KDP Manager DA executive session will likely be held Nov. 7.
Plise optimistic abut Rancho TI
KINGMAN – KDP Manager principal Bill Plise maintains an optimistic outlook while he battles a business partner over their partnership with the City of Kingman in proposed development of the Interstate 40 Rancho Santa Fe Interchange.
“KDP Manager is grateful to have the continued support of the City Council, including Kingman Mayor Ken Watkins,” Plise said in an Oct. 23 statement released through a public relations firm. “Their continued support and partnership are crucial to the success of this project, which will spur economic development throughout the area.”
The statement indicated that KDP Manager has spent years, and millions of dollars on the project and plans to invest millions of dollars more to complete the endeavor in coming years.
“We continue to work with Kingman officials and other stakeholders to add value, including value engineering to reduce overall costs, planning the public sewer and water lines, and utility sleeving for future power, gas, fiber and signaling that were not previously included in the design,” Plise said.
Plise declined comment on a communication in Court case pleadings involving an apparent $5-million buyout offer to business partner Bill Lenhart.
“We are currently in mediation and arbitration proceedings and ongoing negotiations are confidential,” Plise said in an Oct. 26 email.
“We are also pleased that legal proceedings continue to progress in our favor,” he said in the Oct. 23 statement.
Former city manager Ron Foggin, when working with Lenhart prior to Oct., 2022, informed Council many times about KDP Manager’s struggle to secure a line of credit to demonstrate sufficient financing for its share of project funding. KDP has apparently taken a different course of action in that regard.
“KDP Manager continues to work with a finance partner who has the capacity to provide or secure the necessary funding,” Plise said.