Local businesses ask to temporarily halt Von Maur sale

BY DI STAFF | MARCH 05, 2012 6:30 AM

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Business entities across Iowa City are asking the Johnson County District Court to temporarily prohibit the proceeding of a real-estate transfer of the Sycamore Mall department store Von Maur to Coralville.

The city of Coralville has set up various agreements with an independent contractor, Oliver McMillan, and Von Maur to transfer the property to Coralville. Transactions include granting McMillan the exclusive right to develop the new property site for fees above $3 million, a $1.5 million grant allowing Oliver McMillan to purchase the Von Maur property and then sell it to Von Maur Inc, and a $9.4 million grant for Von Maur to construct a new department store, according to court documents.

The lawsuit alleges these transactions are unlawful and will have devastating effects on local individual business interests and economic development as a whole, as well as home property values. It also claims the actions should be prohibited because the Von Maur deal was "constructed and put in place under the radar, through undisclosed, private deals that avoided the critically important transparency and fairness of normal bid and request for proposals process."

Gerry Ambrose, Thomas Bender, Steven McCoy, Kevin O'Brien, Hunter Parks, Randy Miller, Douglas Paul, Garry Hamdorf, and 18 businesses applied for a preliminary injunction on the Von Maur deal, which they said would result in "great and irreparable injury to Johnson County developers, businesses, taxpayers, and residents."

A hearing on the application for preliminary injunction is scheduled for March 20 at the Johnson County Courthouse.

— By Beth Bratsos

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