Suit filed against LiquiPur, owner

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March 16, 2010
— A local property owner is seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in back rent and other fees from a manufacturer that signed a lease but never opened a bottling company in Janesville.

Helgesen Family Limited Partnership filed suit Thursday in Rock County Court against LiquiPur and Bernard Kaufmann, the Delavan man who tried to bring the company and 90 jobs to Janesville.

Kaufmann and LiquiPur signed a six-year lease in September to rent Helgesen's 110,000-square-foot building at 505 S. Wuthering Hills Drive on the city's far east side.

According to Helgesen's suit, the company didn't pay rent for the last seven months of 2009 and was late with its rent payments for two months before that.

The suit seeks back rent of nearly $170,000, plus late payments and other maintenance, real estate and utility costs LiquiPur agreed to in the lease.

In November, Helgesen filed an eviction notice against the company, and LiquiPur agreed to move out by Jan. 1. The company surrendered the property on schedule but has not removed its personal property, according to the suit.

In separate conversations, building owner Jeff Helgesen has said LiquiPur owes him an amount approaching $350,000.

Since announcing its intentions in 2008, LiquiPur has been unable to obtain financing to start its bottling operation in Janesville.

The company planned to specialize in liquid beverages that are nutritional, organic and based on leading-edge technology for recipes, and that have environmentally sensitive packaging. In Janesville, the company planned a hot-fill beverage line as well as a state-of-the-art aseptic food and beverage operation.

Helgesen has since relisted the property with Coldwell Banker Commercial McGuire Mears & Associates.

The city of Janesville has a financial interest in the project. A tax increment finance agreement provided LiquiPur with half of a $200,000 forgivable loan.

Vic Grassman, the city's economic development director said he's spoken with the city attorney about the $100,000 loan. The city is evaluating its options and hasn't decided on a course of action, he said.

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