Retail Traffic

State's Rights: Two Small Domains

In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, some communities are forging ahead with condemnation plans.

In Washington D.C., the National Capital Revitalization Corp. filed papers in July to use eminent domain to acquire six properties at the Skyland Shopping Center. The Kelo decision has certainly “bolstered our credibility,” says Ted Risher, an NCRC development manager.

The NCRC is working to assemble property at the 18.5-acre site to pave the way for a new 280,000-square-foot retail center that would be developed by Vienna, Va.-based The Rappaport Cos.

“We attempted mightily to negotiate with private landowners, tried to bring them to the table, and even tried to devise ways to involve them in future ownership of the new retail center,” Risher says. After those efforts failed, the NCRC moved to condemn the properties. The group has been working to acquire the land since 2002.

A different story is being told in Santa Cruz, Calif., according to The New York Times. City officials want to seize a parcel of family-owned land that is the site of a restaurant, two other businesses and a big hole in the ground remaining from the 1989 earthquake. The city wants to replace the hole — and all the rest, with 54 condominums, calling it a blighted area.

“My family has owned this land for 36 years,” Eric Lau, owner of the thriving restaurant, told the Times. “And now they're trying to erase us from this place, to take it and say we didn't have any choice.”

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