Friday, October 12, 2007

Blight for Eminent Domain?



The building above is an example of a vacant building some would consider appropriate for blighting and eminent domain.

If the property in the picture above was privately owned, with its property taxes paid, and no plans on the part of the current owner for its rehab, would you support the use of blighting and eminent domain for its redevelopment?

Should neighbors or local neighborhood organizations have a say?

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is the building is owned by Paul McKee?

Rick Bonasch said...

It is my understanding that under the constitutional amendment being proposed, such an abandoned property, if planned for redevelopment as a private residence, would not be eligible for acquisition through the use of eminent domain.

From the information we have heard, it sounds like the intent of the proposed constitutional amendment is to prohibit the use of eminent domain on any property, regardless of its condition, if intended for private redevelopment.

GMichaud said...

I am leery of eminent domain. Of course it would be right to take this property if the owner just sat on it for a long time and did nothing, especially if the community was behind it.
However the abuse of eminent domain has caught up with public officials. The taking of property for private gain has caused a rebellion by citizens. Now even reasonable uses of eminent domain will be difficult.
Personally I have to support tightening up the law, otherwise it is clear the abuse will continue.
It is a shame on one hand, but the boundless greed of a few have brought this issue to a head.
If eminent domain was only used as a sensible tool for adaptive reuse of buildings such as this then there would have never been an issue in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Take it! The property as it is now is a menace. Lowers local property values. Which in turn lowers neighbors options. (home equity loans, rehab loans) If someone can not maintain their property, (most certainly a vacant property) best to take it over to keep the fabric of the city intact.

UrbanReviewSTL said...

How do we know that someone didn't buy that place last week and is working on their construction documents for the renovation of the property? We cannot leave it up to politico's to hand-pick whom should be permitted to exercise the power to take property. The non-political person will be left defenseless.

Anonymous said...

Building codes were designed to address problems like this. Locally the enforcement of codes is rarely done fairly or effectively. The unbridled growth of powerful and abusive government has led to the improper use of ED as proven by the latest Supreme Court ruling in MO.

Anonymous said...

In the scenario given, the buildihg is owned by someone with no plans for rehab. Given the fire damage, it's likley any insurance went to pay off debt.

If the property was slated for rehab, the city would know, the alderman would know, the neighborhood group would know, and there would be ways to track the progress.

On the other hand, for a real workd example, consider the Avalon Theater. The ownew has no plans for rehab, he's asking an exorbitant price, and the building is rotting past the point of no return.

Anyone fanmiliar with the housing courts of the city knows that code enforcement only goes so far. Often, its cheaper for absentee owners to pay the fines than do the repairs. And city voters have repeatedly turned back efforts to increase fines.

As a last resort, eminent domain works. Take it away, and we'll be like New Orleans. Great protection of individual property rights, and massive decay in low income neighborhoods.

Anonymous said...

Stricter code enforcement would lead to more demolitions of privately owned properties and city liens against code violaters.

Nick Kasoff said...

I don't know about the city, but I can speak about an inner ring municipality with which I have more experience. The director of public works spoke with me about this very issue, and said that while they can write violation notices all day long, if an owner complains that he is being singled out, the municipal judge will usually toss out the citations. Because of this, the public works people feel frustrated and helpless to deal with blighted property. The only time they have any leverage is on a change of occupancy, because they don't grant an occupancy permit until all predications are abated.

Anonymous said...

Well, that building will never be occupied in its current condition, so now what? Let the neighbors suffer, or take it so it can be redeveloped?

Funny how this building bears no resemblance to properties in Sunset Hills, Clayton, or the "blighted" West County Shopping Center...

Could it be that the TIF and ED wars playing out with our suburban neighbors might wind up hurting legitimate city redevelopment efforts?

Who'da thunk it....

constant change said...

Has the owner been contacted, are they asking unrealistic price or just sitting on it (both)?

Has a law been proposed in such a way that you would need a certain percentage of voters within a certain distance of the property in favor or against, to go along with a rehab plan from a non profit community development group, to go along of course with a realistic current market value of said property?

I usually hate eminent domain, but an owner purposely holding a neighborhood back, or worse, creating the blight, is unacceptable (although it's been accepted for years).