Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Will the New Tropicana Field Project in St. Petersburg, Florida Fulfill its Duty in Using the Land for Public Good as Originally Intended?

In an articled published on Tampa Bay Times website on January 15, 2020, authors Josh Solomon and Jay Cridlin provide updates regarding the future of Tropicana Field as well as the perspective of its past. The city has received eight bids from what will be a “master developer” of the 87 acres comprising the site, which includes the leased baseball stadium home to the Tampa Bay Rays. The current mayor, Mayor Rick Kriseman, will select from the options before he leaves office in January 2022, though the article pointed to the future mayoral candidates’ option to alter his choice.

Although the developer’s bids have not yet been released, one company, Unicorp National Developments, has provided insight on its proposal. Unicorp has many well-known developments in the Orlando, Florida area, including ICON Park, O-Town West, and an upcoming Orlando Fashion Square mall, among others. Its president, Chuck Whittall, said that he instructed his team to “think of this as building a community.” Unicorp’s proposal includes new parks, retail areas, expansion of Booker Creek, and a new Tropicana Field stadium. Whittall stressed that their aim was not to create a dense development, and he is conscious of the area’s past and the overall feeling regarding the area.

In the 1980s, the area was known as the Gas Plant District, a predominantly Black working-class neighborhood centralized around a natural gas production facility. The area was leveled, displacing families, businesses, churches and schools that had been integral to the community for decades, to make way for the then-called Florida Suncoast Dome. Those who did not sell to the city were forced out through the power of eminent domain. At the time, it was believed that once a national baseball team would make the dome its home, economic growth would ensue, benefitting those displaced. In 1998, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays made it its home, but the economic growth in the area did not materialize.

Whittall recognizes this fact, and his company’s proposal has the intention of giving “back to the community…something the entire community could use” and designed “around the park and gathering spaces, and things we felt would benefit the community.” That is, in essence, what ‘public use’ should amount to, though it often simply translates to increased tax revenue for a municipality from developed land. In this case, the land is publicly owned, but its privately-owned history is not forgotten by its former residents.

City officials also recognize this and have proposed some form of agreement where the tax revenue generated in the new area would be used to combat poverty in the city’s poorest areas, presenting at least an attempt to rectify the issues that arise when land is taken through eminent domain. That is, as it was in this case, the public does not always benefit when land is taken through this governmental power, though it is supposed to. In some cases, a project is not completed or does not live up to its promises to benefit its community directly or indirectly, as recently blogged.

Mayoral candidate Darden Rice is “hopeful that this process will yield good proposals” but she is “not going to settle for anything less than this city deserves, which is the best.” Only time will tell if the city lives up to its original promise to the residents of the former Gas Plant District.

Click here to read the article in its entirety and visit to learn about a Chicago-based eminent domain law firm that fights for property owners’ rights in eminent domain matters.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Even When Development Plans Change, Takings Can Still Be Constitutional

A corrected court opinion, filed on December 22, 2020 in the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, affirmed the lower court’s findings. The case revolved around the City of Chicago’s taking of Defendant’s vacant property at Grand Avenue and North Jefferson Street in Chicago, Illinois, and its constitutionality, though the value of the property was addressed along the way.

Back in 1999, the City of Chicago originally intended on making the area around Defendant’s property, which included Blommer Chocolate Company’s factory, a planned manufacturing district, or PMD, aimed at protecting existing manufacturing jobs and facilities and promoting investment in the industries. PMD’s do not include residences. The City implemented a River West Tax Increment Finance Redevelopment Plan, called River West TIF for short, to fund the PMD. A private firm was commissioned to study the River West TIF and in its report found Defendant’s property fell under a “conservation area” which, although not yet blighted, could become so due to various issues applicable to the property. After the study and report, the City approved the River West TIF.

After the River West TIF plan was adopted, Blommer submitted a proposal for redevelopment of its property by expanding its facilities through obtaining the 4.2 acres surrounding its current property, including Defendant’s property. Blommer offered to purchase Defendant’s property, but Defendant refused to sell. The City then stepped in and passed an ordinance authorizing the redevelopment plan and its intent to take Defendant’s property, which it would then transfer to Blommer since it fell under the objectives of the River West TIF.

In 2005, the City of Chicago filed its Complaint for Condemnation, which is the name of the court process used when an entity, such as a state or municipality like Chicago, exercises its eminent domain power, allowing it to take private property for public use. The jury in the first trial awarded $2.5 million to Defendant; Defendant appealed for both the compensation award amount and the denial of its motion to traverse, which challenges the constitutionality of the taking. The appellate court found the taking constitutional, since Blommer’s redevelopment plan served the purposes of the River West TIF and development of the area. The appellate court also sent the case back to the lower circuit court for a new trial only addressing the just compensation amount, as it found that certain evidence had been erroneously excluded.

While the case went back to the trial court on the issue of just compensation, the City reviewed its industrial corridors with the goal of updating its land uses in order to promote “economic growth and job creation.” Ultimately, under the North Branch Framework, it deemed the area that both Blommer’s facilities and Defendant’s property fell within should have its zoning updated so that later it could change its use to at least 50% for employment purposes and able to include “high density office; retail and select residential uses,” which can include a “multistory high-rise residential structure.” The City of Chicago passed an ordinance that would allow this change in zoning in the future for the area; its zoning at the time was changed to Downtown Service, or DS, which does not include residential uses. A company by the name of Fuji Oil Holdings, Inc. purchased all outstanding shares of Blommer and planned to expand the company in North America, although it stated it would not change its management or business structure.

At the second trial, the jury determined that Defendant’s property has a highest and best use as a “multistory high-rise residential structure with ancillary commercial use.” Highest and best use is the measure all properties must be evaluated against in eminent domain matters in order to further protect property owners’ rights and to compensate them appropriately. Even with having to change the zoning from DS to DX, or Downtown Mixed Use, thereby allowing residential structures, the jury awarded Defendant the amount of just compensation award at $7.1 million.

Defendant filed a post-trial motion, challenging the validity of the taking overall, not the amount of just compensation. Defendant contended that the redevelopment plan was unconstitutional since his property was originally deemed a conservation area by the River West TIF and that it was not being taken for public purposes, but rather, for the interest and benefit of one company, Fuji Oil Holdings, Inc., since the North Branch Framework would actually move the Blommer campus to a different area and not expand it in its current location. The trial court denied the motion; Defendant failed to raise this issue at the second trial, thereby waiving his ability to challenge on this basis, as the redevelopment plan was incorporated into the evidence at the second trial. Furthermore, the trial court found that the redevelopment plan still maintained the goal of economic revitalization in the area, and therefore, it is still in the public’s best interest and hence constitutional.

The appellate court, reviewing all the evidence and history of the case, affirmed the trial court’s decision. The case was first sent back only on the issue of the amount of just compensation award, not its constitutionality. Even so, it found no abuse of discretion, nor did it find any newly discovered evidence that would change the outcome of the case. It was deemed that the North Branch Framework still served the purposes of the River West TIF, and therefore, the outcome would not change the finding that this taking is constitutional.

The full, corrected court opinion can be read at To learn more about eminent domain, your property rights, and a law firm that works hard to protect your investment, visit, or give us a call today at 312-573-2727 if you are facing the power of eminent domain and wish to protect your constitutional rights.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Another Dangerous Example of Eminent Domain

Nowadays, the use of eminent domain is commonly used for roadway purposes, such as adding lanes and/or improving the roadway overall. However, there are other uses which are purported to be 'for the good of the people' based upon economic promises. The project is supposed to improve the local economy, bring jobs or enhance the residents' daily lives. This promise is not always lived up to, though, and can even bring the opposite: devastation, loss, and a bleak future. It has happened again, and this time to the Village of Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin.

After reading the article titled, "Foxconn Debacle is Yet Another Example of the Dangers of Using Eminent Domain to Promote Economic Development" posted on the Reason website on December 10, 2020, I was reminded of how easy it is for the government to pass legislation using this vehicle that so profoundly and immediately impacts the lives of those property owners affected. As long as the right people in power agree, then huge deals like this are relatively easy to pass. To sum up, the then-governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, backed by President Trump and a few other politicians, touted this project and its would-be benefits and pushed along the huge tax subsidy (to the tune of nearly four billion dollars) to get this project going. 

Foxconn is a Taiwanese "electronics giant" who manufacturers items such as the iPhone and XBox. Foxconn would build a 3,000 acre hi-tech plant that would manufacture large 10.5 LCD displays ("Gen 10.5 Fab") in a 20 million square foot facility and employ over 13,000 people. That is what was expected in 2017. Fast-forward to late 2020: only 281 full-time jobs, a structure that was recently zoned from manufacturing to storage is 1/20th the size it promised to be, and the current governor Tony Evers pulled the deal from Foxconn since they failed to deliver their benchmark promises. According to The Verge in their at, Foxconn really didn't have a detailed plan when they struck this deal, and politicians, eager to make big strides for their voters, or at least appear to be, trusted the Foxconn had a real plan. To date, there are no plans. 

Let's not forget about the property owners. Sean McFarlane went to site where his home used to sit. It is now a detention pond with geese perched on a hill. The Village spared every expense to take their property too, since they placed Sean and his family in a "dilapidated vacant house with no working toilets or heat" and also allegedly failed to make the relocation payment of $22,000 to the McFarlanes. However, if you go to Mount Pleasant's Foxconn website at, it consists of three paragraphs and contact information regarding the project. It also has a hyperlink to a Racine County Welcomes Foxconn website at If you click on Jobs (under Updates) and go to Job Postings, you will only find a recruiting email, a few fluff paragraphs, and a message from Foxconn's former CEO, Terry Gou, who had made the deal with the former Wisconsin governor. The message speaks of their long-term strategy and vision to make Wisconsin the next Silicon Valley. There are currently no job postings. The taxpayers of Wisconsin, however, have already started paying for this doomed project.

Unfortunately, unless the limits of eminent domain are truly fleshed out in legislation, this won't be the last time failed promises break down a community. To learn more about a law firm in the Chicagoland area who fights for your property rights in eminent domain matters, go to to learn more. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

 City Council Takes Next Step in the Path to Acquire Metacomet by Eminent Domain

We previously blogged about a council member presenting a resolution to acquire private property; as suspected, the City's main concern is not necessarily to preserve open spaces but to generate income. Read below to learn the details and visit to learn more about an Illinois-based law firm that exclusively and successfully represents property owners and their property interests when faced with an agency exercising the power of eminent domain.

As reported on Eco RI News on November 13, 2020 at, the City Council is keeping alive the possibility of acquiring the Metacomet golf course, which was privately purchased by a company on September 30, 2020. That company has plans to turn the land into a mixed-use development, but the plans are not set, and the property owner has indicated it is open to different uses and even would continue with its current use. The property is currently zoned by the City as an open space.

This was the initial sticking point that prompted Representative Gregg Amore to start a movement called Keep Metacomet Green. However, as it is plainly obvious in recent City Council meeting, the City is not so concerned with its use as an open space as they are concerned with the potential revenue that could be gained by having the property city-owned. Case in point, Council member Ricardo Mourato said, “It’s a gold mine. We’re not thinking outside the box.” 

Another fact is that the property scores low as an environmental habitat as ranked by the conservation group The Nature Conservancy. One looming question is that if keeping it an open space was the real priority, couldn't the city simply pass a resolution to do so? Deny any undesirable zoning applications? The property owner already withdrew its previous application after the backlash. Those methods, and maybe even other ones, could be effective and efficient. As can plainly be seen though, the argument of keeping it an open space as a reason to use their power of eminent domain falls flat as evident by the City Council members' remarks about the property's potential to generate income.

The City has passed a request for information (RFI) soliciting businesses or organizations interested in operating a business should the city acquire the land.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Environmental Defense Fund Up Against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Battle Over 66-Mile Natural Gas Pipeline

Read below and then visit to learn about an eminent domain attorney who defends property owners' constitutional rights.

As reported on Environmental Defense Fund's (EDF) website on October 23, 2020, EDF filed a reply brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) asking the court to strike down FERC's approval for the Spire STL Pipeline which ignored its statutory regulations to protect the public interest.
The reply brief maintains that FERC did not provide evidence showing need for the project and that this private business decision was allowed to "override the wide-sweeping public interest ramifications-on the affiliates' captive customers, the viability of neighboring pipelines, the degradation of the environment, and the persistent and invasive seizure of private property by eminent domain."
EDF, along with a mix of experts and organizations, states that FERC failed to evaluate and "adequately assess" the need under the Natural Gas Act when it failed to properly evaluate the economic and market facts that should guide their decision. Read more at

Monday, October 12, 2020

Rhode Island Representative Pushing for East Providence to Use Eminent Domain Powers 

Read the summary below for a recap of the Providence Journal article and then visit to discover an eminent domain attorney working hard for private property owners' rights.

In an article posted in the Providence Journal on September 28, 2020, Representative Gregg Amore drafted a resolution for the City to acquire the Metacomet Golf Club property that is currently in the process of being sold. What prompted the movement against the buyer, Marshall Properties of Pawtucket, was its application for re-zoning the property to the mixed use of residential and office space. 

The representative started a movement, Keep Metacomet Green, with support from surrounding neighbors. Marshall has since withdrew its rezoning application and instead decided to develop the property in keeping with the current zoning.

This still has prompted backlash, with the representative pushing his resolution for the City of East Providence to acquire the property through eminent domain.  However, it raises many questions, such as, would the City be abusing its power of eminent domain? If open, green spaces were that desperately needed in that area, why wasn't a resolution previously enacted? Why didn't the City offer to purchase the property outright, paying a fair price to the seller? Doesn't the developer have a right to develop the property as long as it is in keeping with the current restrictions?

Read the article at and visit to learn more about your private property rights under eminent domain.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Sixth-Generation Farm, Among Others, to be Subject to the Power of Eminent Domain

Read below about an article posted on the Channel 8 local ABC website which speaks of a sixth-generation farm and others that will soon be subject to eminent domain authority due to a high-speed railway project approved by the federal government and visit to learn of a law firm that solely assists property owner in recovering damages created by a project like this.

The Federal Railroad Administration gave approval for the project to move forward, which is slated to begin construction next year. However, land owners have banded together to oppose the project, forming an opposition group called Texans Against High-Speed Rail to lobby and stop the creation of the bullet train. The bullet train that will cut through tracts of farmland, which decreases the value of the land and also presents other issues to the property owners, who also fear that it will lead to more takings down the road. 

Texas Central Railroad has yet to exercise its power over eminent domain and has already acquired 600 parcels. 

Read more about the property owners' concerns and their plight at and visit to learn about a law firm that is on the property owners' side.

Will the New Tropicana Field Project in St. Petersburg, Florida Fulfill its Duty in Using the Land for Public Good as Originally Intended?

In an articled published on Tampa Bay Times website on January 15, 2020, authors Josh Solomon and Jay Cridlin provide updates regarding the ...