Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Latest on Economic Development Takings

Tom Blumer has a story about a church that may be taken and replaced with a commercial development.  I'll be interested in seeing how this dispute plays out in the local political process.  It also makes an interesting comparison with the Chicago churches described in Nicole Garnett's recent article on the Political Economy of Eminent Domain.  Hat tip:  Todd Zywicki.

Also, today's New York Times has a story titled Developers Can't Imagine Life Without Eminent Domain.  (Hat tip:  Christine Hurt).  An excerpt:

Bank of America agreed to join the developer Douglas Durst in 2003 in building a 54-story tower in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, giving a psychological and economic lift to a city that was still reeling from the destruction of the World Trade Center.

Mr. Durst said he would not have been able to negotiate with Bank of America or other prospective tenants had the state not authorized him to use eminent domain, a redevelopment tool that is coming under fire in the wake of a United States Supreme Court ruling last June in a Connecticut case.

Now under construction at 42nd Street and the Avenue of Americas, the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park, as the project is known, was decades in the making as the Durst family assembled the site. Ultimately, only two buildings remained, but their owners kept raising the price, Mr. Durst said.

Eventually, the state told Mr. Durst that if he found an anchor tenant the buildings could be condemned even though the site was not in a blighted neighborhood. That threat alone was enough to break the impasse. "Once we had that ability, we were able to quickly come to a resolution on the two properties and meet Bank of America's schedule," Mr. Durst said.

Despite all of this debate by anecdote, the fact remains that we still don't have much comprehensive data on how eminent domain is in fact being used by municipalities around the country.

Ben Barros

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