UPDATE: Developer responds to call for review of Waterloo Conve - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: Developer responds to call for review of Waterloo Convention Center deal

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Tom Lind wants an independent review of Waterloo's recent development agreement for the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center.

The Waterloo City Council member called for that after an Omaha World-Herald story about a separate project involving the developer, Edwin Leslie.

The Omaha World-Herald story says Leslie's company, Leslie Hospitality, is facing a lawsuit, accused of missing payments and breaching an agreement which revolves around a $40 million project in Omaha.

KWWL contacted Leslie on Tuesday about that story.

"The World-Herald article is not accurate," said Leslie on Tuesday.

He later clarified with KWWL today.

"What they stated was factual.  There was nothing in there that wasn't factual.  However, I feel the story was very one sided. The story didn't paint a clear picture. It was a business transaction that didn't work out. There was information that we were provided that was wholly inadequate and inaccurate. We had a counter claim and we feel it was a mutually-beneficial settlement. Our attorney didn't want to comment (to the Omaha World-Herald) because of the settlement agreement," said Leslie.

KWWL also asked Leslie about the Waterloo project in light of the World-Herald report.

"There are no issues with financing the Waterloo project and we are moving forward quickly," said Leslie.

A few months ago, the Waterloo City Council voted to approve the sale of the convention center and adjacent Ramada Hotel to Leslie Hospitality.

In October, Leslie said renovations would begin on the hotel as early as November.

"As a representative of the people of Waterloo, I have an obligation to ensure that their tax money is protected and that agreements the city enters into on their behalf are upheld. This recent lawsuit is alarming and we owe it to our citizens to make sure that Mr. Leslie doesn’t allow something like this to happen in Waterloo," said Lind.

Leslie says he welcomes the request for an independent review.  "I'm all for that. We have nothing to hide. We'll participate and help in any manner," said Leslie.

Lind also says he had concerns about the way he and some other council members were treated during previous talks with Leslie.

"Many in the community came forward and asked great questions during the development agreement process. They were chastised, accused of false motives, and ignored. Now it appears some of their concerns may have been valid," said Lind.

Lind says he plans to talk about this further at Monday's city council meeting.

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