Price Development Co., the major force behind the Provo Towne Centre mall, is currently the only plaintiff left on a lawsuit against the city of Orem over an incentive package given to the University Mall.
Caroline Roemer, spokeswoman for the People For Fair Taxation group - which is made up of Price and a handful of small-business owners - confirmed Monday that everyone but Price has bailed out.Roemer said she believes those who've abandoned the effort to legally stop Orem from providing millions of dollars in tax incentives to Woodbury Corp., owners of University Mall, were unprepared for the onslaught of publicity and pressure.
"I don't think the small businesses realized the pressures that would come from local officials and just the publicity," Roemer said.
Earlier, Tim Bird of Computer Recyclers and Clark Heringer of Heringer Marine both said while they strongly object to the manner in which Orem has dealt with the mall situation, they were not told that Price Development was heavily behind the lawsuit.
John Price of JP Realty is the developer for Provo's south-end mall and responsible for persuading J.C. Penney to leave University Mall for the new Provo mall. According to Orem officials, Price was also lobbying ZCMI to leave Orem as an anchor.
Orem reacted to the possibility of having University Mall left with a single anchor and worked out a pair of agreements that not only keep ZCMI in Orem but bring in a Nordstrom anchor as well.
The lawsuit, filed by the People For Fair Taxation, claimed Orem is using tax money illegally and unfairly to help out big business.
"Price still feels quite strongly (about the wrongs done)," Roemer said. "He will pursue it in court."
He is also still recruiting support, she said. "But currently, yes, it's just Price Development on the amended complaint."
That amended complaint, filed in 4th District Court, deletes Roger Mortensen with the Hobby Stop, Computer Recyclers Inc., Heringer Marine, Cesar Tavares with Video Care and Greg Morgan with Orem Vacuum.
In addition, one of the defendants, Orem City Councilman Joseph Andersen, has been removed from the list of those charged with violating the law.
Hans Verlan Andersen, his father, told the Deseret News earlier that Andersen has not voted in favor of the incentive package and should not have been named in the complaint at all.