Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Nashville files suit to seize 7 properties for convention center

Metro government officials have taken the first steps toward seizing downtown property for a proposed convention center.
The Metro Development and Housing Agency filed condemnation suits against seven groups of property owners in Davidson County Circuit Court on Friday. The agency said in the petitions that it had deposited more than $31.2 million to pay what it considers "just compensation" to acquire the properties by eminent domain.

The county property assessor's office appraised the properties for more than $24.3 million collectively this year.

Metro is considering building a 1.2 million-square-foot, $600 million convention center on about 15 acres south of Sommet Center and First Baptist Church. Mayor Karl Dean and the Metro Council decided last summer to borrow about $62 million to start acquiring property, even though financing plans for the center and an attached hotel are still coming together.

Joe Cain, MDHA's development director, said last week that the agency would continue negotiating with property owners even after starting eminent domain proceedings. Cain said the lawsuits were necessary to ensure that the city has the property in hand by January.

MDHA has already reached agreements with seven other property owners.

The properties

In its court filings, the agency said it was willing to pay:

• $2,835,000 for Christie's Cabaret, which was appraised for more than $2.33 million.

• $14.8 million for a 5.66-acre site owned by Tower Music City II LLC, part of Tower Investments. The site was appraised for $12,550,600.

• $4.8 million for the Musicians' Hall of Fame, which was appraised for a little more than $3 million.

• $1,774,300 to Nashville Downtown Platinum LLC for two parcels appraised for $1,157,300.

• $905,000 to Hugh Cates, A.M. Downing, Richard Downing, Donna C. Downing and Lamar Advertising for a site appraised for $637,100.

• $4,906,500 for the Greyhound bus station, which was appraised for $3,775,500.

• $1.25 million to Billy D. and Beverly G. Pitt for a parcel appraised for $926,400.

Councilman Jim Gotto has proposed a Metro Charter amendment that would give the council the right to approve or reject any use of eminent domain.

The council previously delegated that authority to MDHA by setting up redevelopment districts in areas that are considered blighted.

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