The Real Deal New York

Arbitrators rule DDG execs can’t force out senior adviser

John Keeler gets to keep 20% economic interest in the company

November 22, 2016 01:20PM
By Kathryn Brenzel

Joe McMillan and XOCO 325 at 325 West Broadway

Joe McMillan and XOCO 325 at 325 West Broadway

A senior adviser  and stakeholder of DDG Partners will get to keep his interests in the company after the development firm’s executives tried to push him out, an arbitration panel ruled.

John Keeler, general counsel and senior advisor at DDG TRData LogoTINY, brought a case against the company’s executives to arbitration in November 2015, alleging that they wrongfully accused him of failing to do his job, according to documents filed with the New York Supreme Court on Tuesday. Keeler claimed that CEO Joseph McMillan, COO Christopher Prokop and CCO Peter Guthrie tried to squeeze him out of his 20 percent interest in the company under the guise that he willingly withdrew. The executives argued that he was “so lacking in productivity” that he “in effect disassociated himself” from the company. They also tried to buy Keeler out of one of the firm’s new projects: 325 West Broadway, a 21-unit condominium building known as XOCO 325, documents show.

The six arbitrators in the case, while recognizing that Keeler fell short of the company’s expectations, ruled in August that he only forfeited his voting rights when he failed to perform his duties, but he should be able to retain his stake in DDG.

Keeler filed a petition in New York Supreme Court on Tuesday seeking to finalize the arbitrators’ decision. The petition is a formality, but one that provides a rare window into the feud. Representatives for DDG were not immediately able to provide comment.

DDG is currently building a 521-foot condo tower on the Upper East Side. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman asked the firm to refile its plans for the project earlier this year, after city officials accused the company of exploiting a zoning loophole to make the tower taller.

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