Coralville doubles down on the Iowa River Landing

Not confident, apparently, with their chances of success in the lawsuit filed against them, Coralville has counter-sued the group of developers and business that had the audacity to question the legal merit of Coralville’s high dollar give-away to Oliver McMillan and Von Maur.  Oliver McMillan is  the California developer in charge of doing Coralville’s dirty work in getting the land and cash into Von Maur’s hand.  Von Maur is a department store that “rarely has any customers and carries old lady fashions. It reminds me of the department store in ‘Shopgirl'” according to my friend Adam.

Coralville countersues in Von Maur case by Emily Schettler in the Press-Citizen, Apr. 16, 2012

In court documents filed this morning, Coralville alleges intentional interference with contract and civil conspiracy by those who brought the original lawsuit: A group of eight developers, businesspeople, property owners and 18 area businesses.

In their countersuit, the city argued that the original group of plaintiffs “intentionally and improperly interfered with contract(s) by filing this lawsuit” to prevent the counterclaimants, Coralville and its master developer OliverMcMillan, from proceeding with contracts it had entered into related to work within the city’s Iowa River Landing district.

In the counterclaim, the city argues that the group’s conduct was “willful, wanton, and malicious and in conscious and reckless disregard of Counterclaimants’ rights.”

How dare they question our actions, screams the business friendly city?  Does this mean that all those people who harp about Iowa City being business unfriendly next to wonderful accommodating Coralville?

As a spectator in this, I say bring it on.

To digress slightly, I actually support the development of the Iowa River Landing, even if it did kill Dolls, Inc.  And I support government supported development (I believe in stimulus).  What I don’t support is forgoing years and years of tax receipts and unfairly shutting out private developers.  As I’ve pointed out before, Coralville has a lot in common with New Jersey.

At this point the ire of the community seems to be directed at Kelly Hayworth, the Coralville City Administrator, and Oliver McMillan, the San Diego developer.  And I believe they both deserve plenty of ire.  But when is the city council that sat idly by while Hayworth and McMillan hatched their plans going to be called to account for this?

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Judge Marsha Bergan declines to dismiss Iowa River Landing suit

After rejecting a request for an immediate injunction to keep Coralville from moving forward with the Oliver McMillan/Von Maur land giveaway, District Court Judge Marsha Bergan dismissed Coralville’s request to have the Iowa River Landing lawsuit thrown out.

Judge denies Coralville’s request to dismiss lawsuit by Emily Schettler in the Iowa City Press Citizen, Mar. 30, 2012

District Court Judge Marsha Bergan has denied the city of Coralville’s request to dismiss a lawsuit against the city over its development practices in the Iowa River Landing.

Attorneys for the city had asked Bergan to dismiss a lawsuit brought by area developers and business owners who were seeking an injunction to prevent the city from completing a proposed land deal with Von Maur.

My short summation of the case:  Coralville is giving San Diego developer Oliver McMillan $1.5 million with which he will buy a prime parcel of land in the Iowa River Landing.  He is then required to turn around and sell that land to Von Maur for $10.  (This is, of course, just a small piece of the ~$14 million puzzle of tricks Coralville is using to incentivize Von Maur to abandon Iowa City.)  Iowa law states that cities cannot sell land below market value, but apparently laws don’t apply when you call a project urban renewal.

Ultimately I’m not sure what the plaintiffs in this case hope to get, and I’m doubtful that they will prevail in the end.  Hopefully, though, this case will open a bit wider the window that is exposing the shady chicanery of Kelly Hayworth and the City of Coralville.