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West Glen partners go to court


After the authorization for his $50,000 annual manager’s fee at West Glen Town Center expired, William Van Orsdel upped his salary to $156,000 a year, according to a lawsuit filed today in Polk County District Court.

West Glen Town Center LLC, of which Van Orsdel is a partner, filed the lawsuit after other partners in the operating company dug into their personal wealth to pay his $3.4 million share of, among other things, a $10 million loan that was due last year to JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Van Orsdel could not be reached for comment.

Partners also covered Van Orsdel’s stake in a $1 million capital operating account used to pay expenses at the West Des Moines commercial and residential district, according to the lawsuit.

Van Orsdel was credited as being the idea man behind the project, and he managed the town center from 2004 until April 2009, when he was replaced by Gerald Kirke, a key investor in the development.

Kirke and Van Orsdel have reached nearly legendary status in Greater Des Moines business circles. They launched Kirke-Van Orsdel Inc. (KVI) in 1974 and later were responsible in part for some of the area’s most notable real estate projects, including West Lakes Office Park and Glen Oaks, the state’s first gated community, both in West Des Moines.

The other partners in West Glen Town Center LLC are Robert Horner, Robert Pulver and Terry Moss, all of whom were involved from the beginning in that residential and commercial center as well as Glen Oaks.

Van Orsdel is accused in the lawsuit of breach of contract, breach of an operating agreement, breach of his fiduciary duties and fraud.

Among other things, the partners say Van Orsdel is attempting to shield assets by taking first lien position on loans from a trust and limited partnership that he operates.

The town center has experienced financial difficulties that are largely related to the recession and a lack of commercial tenants in newer segments of the development. Some West Glen merchants have been critical of what they see as an incompatible mix of nightspots and retail stores.

However, West Glen spokeswoman Jamie Buelt said the lawsuit is not a reflection of the financial vitality of the town center. Residential units are more than 93 percent occupied, and other businesses are operating as normal.

Kirke and Van Orsdel were inducted together into the Iowa Insurance Hall of Fame in 2008.

They were high school acquaintances who bumped into each other by accident in Washington, D.C., and went on to form KVI, building a client list that included Fortune 500 companies. They sold the insurance brokerage and employee benefits business to Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. and Automatic Data Processing Inc. in 1998.

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