The halted sale of a $60 million parking lot near Denver International Airport has led two of the lot’s co-owners to accuse a third co-owner of extortion.
USAirport Parking, west of the airport at 18000 E. 81st Ave. in Commerce City, first opened in 1998. Its shuttle lot offers covered and uncovered parking, along with oil changes.
In January, Green Courte Partners, a Chicago company that owns The Parking Spot chain, offered to buy USAirport Parking for $57 million, according to a Nov. 20 lawsuit.
William Barber, a co-owner and manager of USAirport Parking, asked for $60 million instead and Green Courte agreed to pay $60 million in August, the lawsuit claims.
The ownership structure of USAirport Parking is layered and complex, with five LLCs splitting control. As the owner of one LLC and manager of two others, Barber “is able to exercise almost complete control over the business organization,” despite owning just 25.5 percent of USAirport Parking, according to his business partners, who own the other 74.5 percent.
When it came time to sell to Green Courte, Barber made what the other co-owners now call “his extortion demand”: $6 million off the top, before sale proceeds could be divvied up. Barber’s business partners, Milton Rotenberg and Timothy Marascuillo, rejected that demand, so Barber has blocked the $60 million sale ever since, according to the Nov. 20 lawsuit.
“As a result of this (corporate) structure, the owner of 25.5 percent of the business organization is able to preclude the sale of the assets at an extremely favorable price,” it states.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which are the LLCs that Rotenberg and Marascuillo control, also accuse Barber of employing his family members “at salaries excessive for the tasks they perform” and allege that a disability has left him unable to make sound decisions.
“Barber’s refusal to act upon the ($60 million) offer is for purposes of keeping his family members employed, because a sale of assets to the bona fide offerer would result in the termination of his family members from their current employment,” they claim.
The plaintiffs are asking Douglas County District Court Judge Gary Kramer to remove Barber as manager of the two LLCs he runs and also dissolve one of the companies. Doing so would break a deadlock and allow for the sale of USAirport Parking to Green Courte.
Barber has not been served the lawsuit yet and has not had a chance to respond in court. Shelley Barber, his daughter and the chief operations officer at USAirport Parking, initially agreed to discuss the case with BusinessDen but later declined to comment.
The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys John Hutchings and Patrick Tooley with Dill Dill Carr Stonbraker & Hutchings, a Denver firm. They also declined to discuss the case.