When a City wants to expand its mass transit system, it’s an almost certain bet that some citizens will lose their property rights. This was the case when the City of Charlotte, expanded its light rail system. Unfortunately for property owner Roseclay, LLC, the growing light rail line needed part of its shopping center for a five deck parking structure. The City filed two lawsuits against Roseclay, to take separate parts of the shopping center. The first lawsuit, involving the prime corner location has just been settled.
Roseclay’s building sat in an enviable location on bustling J.W. Clay Boulevard. UNC-Charlotte was across the street. The proximity to campus was a boon for the building’s tenants, a popular bakery called Nona’s Sweets and a Panda Express. Both businesses enjoyed long term leases at the site, and with sales booming they expected to remain there over the long run.
Nona’s Sweets, in particular, had invested considerable funds into renovating the space. As a small enterprise owned by a local family, they had struggled to succeed. By 2011, their bakery business was finally paying off. Then, the City said they had to vacate, forcing them to give up their prime location even though their lease didn’t expire for another six years.
Unfortunately, the City needed the space, and the property rights of the building owners were eliminated when Charlotte condemned the structure. Nona’s Sweets and Panda Express were forced to seek alternative rental space. Roseclay sought the assistance of eminent domain lawyers who concentrate their practice exclusively on fair compensation for property rights. The eminent domain lawyers hired by Roseclay engaged the services of an appraiser to countermand the City’s offer of $1,560,100.
Working with the eminent domain lawyers, the appraiser utilized an income approach to valuing the property rights that Roseclay was losing. This approach involved looking at comparable properties and the rents that tenants paid in these buildings. Based on the appraiser’s findings, the eminent domain lawyers argued that the City should pay their client $2,440,000 as just compensation for loss of their property rights.
Unsurprisingly, legal counsel working for the City disagreed. Their appraiser used both a cost approach and an income approach to reach an appraised value of just $1,560,100. As the attorneys for Roseclay pointed out, the City’s appraiser had not looked at all of the property’s desirable features, nor had the appraiser considered comparable rents paid by tenants in the same area.
It looked as if the matter would have to be decided in court. However, the parties participated in alternative dispute resolution to see if the matter could be concluded before trial. Mediation began, and the City ultimately agreed to pay Roseclay $2,225,000, not far off from the Roseclay appraiser’s value.
Eminent domain lawyers help their clients preserve their rights and force municipalities to fully and fairly pay for the properties they condemn. With the resolution of the first dispute between Roseclay and the City of Charlotte, the municipality was held to that standard, adequately compensating the property owner in the wake of a condemnation action. Round two, the lawsuit involving the rest of the shopping center, will be fought next!