High court blocks downtown eminent domain: Kansas City [MO] Business Journal, 3/24/06

By Jim Davis

The Supreme Court of Missouri has blocked a long-running downtown property-condemnation effort by the Tax Increment Financing Commission of Kansas City.

The court ruled Tuesday that the TIF Commission couldn't use eminent domain to force the owners of a surface parking lot next to Kansas City Southern's headquarters at 427 W. 12th St. to sell the property because its condemnation payment wasn't made within five years of the Kansas City Council's authorizing a redevelopment plan.

The ruling overturned a July decision by Circuit Court Judge Michael Manners in Independence. In October, a court-appointed panel set the parcel's value at $3.23 million.

The award was the second made for the property. In 2001, the TIF Commission sought to condemn the site for DST Realty Inc. to construct an office building. The project was to have been built on a speculative basis, without named tenants. DST Realty built Kansas City Southern's headquarters.

But the TIF Commission chose not to make the purchase because it said the initial appraisal of $4.08 million was too high.

The commission filed another condemnation petition on Sept. 13, 2004, five years and a day after the City Council's redevelopment plan ordinance took effect.

The supreme court ruled that the condemnation needed to be completed within five years of the ordinance's effective date.

Steven Mauer, a lawyer with Bryan Cave LLP who represents the TIF Commission, said an appeal is unlikely. Another alternative would be to ask the General Assembly to review the statute establishing the five-year limitation.

Mauer said the supreme court's logic could prove problematic.

"All other limitations say you have to commence action, not complete the litigation," he said. "This is the only limitation that says you have to get the lawsuit done."

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