Probability of assemblage in condemnation proceeding.

Author:Blair, Benjamin A.

The City of Hartford (City) exercised its eminent domain power to take property owned by CBV Parking (CBV) as part of the City's redevelopment plan. The property is comprised of fourteen tax lots that form three distinct parcels, each of irregular shape and covering part of a city block, totaling 2.89 acres.

Prior to the taking, the three parcels were being used as parking lots. In 2012, a financially distressed seller sold the property for $374,000 to CBV in a non-arm's-length transaction, and the sale price was well under the city's valuation for property tax assessment purposes.

The sole owner of CBV is an experienced investor and developer who, prior to the purchase of the property, reviewed the city's redevelopment plan. After obtaining the property, he took steps to facilitate the sale or redevelopment of the property, including dividing the property into three parcels and negotiating the elimination of certain easements and access rights, which he viewed as a potential obstacle to assemblage of the property with adjoining properties. He viewed the City as the logical buyer of the property.

By late 2012, the City had acquired smaller properties adjoining the property, for which it had paid approximately $1.2 to $1.3 million. In May 2013, the City offered to buy all three of CBV's parcels for $ 1.17 million. CBV rejected the offer. Unbeknownst to CBV, however, the City had decided to construct a ballpark as part of its redevelopment plan. The City solicited proposals, selecting the proposal to develop a "dynamic new neighborhood" that included assembling CBV's property with adjoining properties.

The City took the property in November 2014, filing a statement of compensation of $1,980,000 for the taking, which CBV deemed inadequate. At trial, both parties presented two appraisals based on comparable sales. The City's appraisals valued the property at $1,900,000 and $2,010,000, assuming a continuation of the property's use as parking lots. The court concluded both appraisals failed to account for the announced ballpark development and expectations for surrounding development.

CBV's appraisals valued the property at $4,810,000 and $5,220,000. The court rejected the higher appraisal, which was premised on research related to the effect that new minor league ballparks had on surrounding land values...

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