The Iowa River Landing poaching project persists

Not happy to simply steal Von Maur from Iowa City, the San Diego based developer in charge of doing Coralville’s dirty work is approaching various downtown Iowa City businesses in an effort to lure them to the Iowa River Landing.

Iowa River Landing tests waters with I.C. businesses by Dave DeWitte from the (Cedar Rapids) Gazette, Mar. 20, 2012

Mark Weaver, owner of the outdoor apparel and equipment retail store Active Endeavors at 138 S. Clinton St. said the invitation was “obviously flattering, but we’re committed to the downtown.”


The owner of Chait Galleries, 218 E. Washington St., also was invited to consider opening in Iowa River Landing.

Owner Benjamin Chait said he’s impressed by Coralville’s positive approach to helping businesses, which he considers a stark and favorable contrast to Iowa City’s. Nevertheless, Iowa River Landing didn’t fit Chait’s vision for the contemporary art gallery.


Catherine Champion of Catherine’s Boutique, 7 S. Dubuque St., confirmed that she was contacted about Iowa River Landing. Champion said she loves being downtown, considers the prospects bright and isn’t considering a relocation to Iowa River Landing.

Thank you to these businesses for their commitment to downtown Iowa City.  Please reward them with your patronage.

In other Iowa River Landing news, Judge Marsha Bergan heard arguments today in a case brought by local IC/CV businesspeople seeking to block Coralville from using overtly under-the-table means to donate a large piece of land to Von Maur.

Coralville, group make their arguments in court by Emily Schettler from the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Mar. 20, 2012

A group of area business owners and developers has requested an injunction that would prevent the city from moving forward with plans to sell about 7.5 acres of property in the IRL to Von Maur to use to build an 80,000-square-foot department store.

The city offered Von Maur more than $14 million in financial incentives to locate in the IRL.

Attorneys for the plaintiff group argued Tuesday afternoon in Johnson County District Court that the proposed land sale violates several sections of Iowa Code and that the city’s use of tax dollars to subsidize development provides an unfair advantage with which private developers cannot compete.


The crux of the plaintiffs’ argument is focused on the city’s hiring of OliverMcMillan, a San Diego-based firm, as its master developer and Coralville’s use of the company as a go-between in its land sale to Von Maur.

Robert Hatala, an attorney for the plaintiffs, argued that the city was secretive about selecting a master developer for the IRL, making it difficult for other businesses to present their own bids for that role.

The plaintiffs also questioned the legality of the land sale to Von Maur. Coralville plans to provide OliverMcMillan with a $1.5 million economic development grant to purchase the land from the city. OliverMcMillan is then required to sell the land to Von Maur for $10. Iowa Code prohibits a city from gifting land away or selling it below fair market value.

I have used my editorial judgement to leave out the arguments made on behalf of Coralville.  I can boil them down to this: Hey, we’re going to make some money for us and help Coralville grow, why are you asking so many questions?



One Comment on “The Iowa River Landing poaching project persists”

  1. Iowa City friend says:

    This is disgusting. Hopefully,the plaintiffs will win. TIF money is surely being misappropriated here.

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