NORFOLK, Neb. -- After $32 million was invested into the Union at Riverpoint project, it is now on hold. 

Developer Mark Otto has decided to table the project on First St. for the time being.

“It's literally the environment that is being produced from Jim McKenzie,” Otto said. 

In a recent letter to the press, Otto explained his decision that led him to pull away. Using the word “toxic,” Otto said that Norfolk mayoral candidate Jim McKenzie pushed him away. 

“When you got McKenzie just going out there, he's not only attacking me,” Otto said. ”He's attacking the mayor, he's, I'm told he was trying to get a situation started with the city manager.”

“I felt the rollout of the project was poor from the beginning,” McKenzie said. “There was very little public education on the project, very little public input on the project, poor communications with existing tenants about the requirements to move, and never really heard the real financial justification for the 20 years of T.I.F."

T.I.F. stands for tax increment financing, generally using public financing towards real estate projects.

Current Norfolk Mayor Josh Moenning weighed in on the dispute.

“I don't really blame him [Otto],” Moenning said. “He did cite a toxic political environment, and hostility that was shown to him, even personally, about this project and I really don't understand that.”

“I don't know of any smart developer that has all of his space leased out is going to back out of something simply because you get a little some questioning and some pushback from the community,” McKenzie said. 

So what does this mean for future developers?

“We want everyone to know that Norfolk remains to be open for business and that it is a very important part of our culture here, and it will be for years to come,” Moenning said.

“We don't have toxicity, we have a lack of transparency,” McKenzie said. “And better transparency would go a long way toward getting community buy-in.”

The project however, is not completely out of reach. 

“Let's wait till after the election, if he's mayor, it doesn't matter,” Otto said. “If he's not mayor, maybe it'll calm down and we can have real conversations. Let's hope we can get back to this point. And moving forward in the future.”

“We don't want it to be a failure in any way, shape, or form we want to succeed,” McKenzie said. “So again, if we're putting that kind of investment, public investment, we want to understand that whole project a lot better.”