Eminent Domain Buyback More Costly: Free Market News Network, 6/13/06

Eminent domain isn't always cost-effective. Look at the Caffe Appassionato in Seattle, Washington, for instance, where the site was supposed to be demolished for an extension to the monorail system. The city confiscated the property and paid its owners nearly $600,000 in the process, notes Paul Jacob in his latest Common Sense.

Then the rail extension funding went belly-up, and the project was canceled. So the taking was voided, and the property was scheduled to be returned to its Korean-immigrant owner, Talki Hong Lee. However, Jacob notes, the attorneys for the monorail fiasco determined they could not legally sell it back for the same price, since the building's market value had risen by about another $70,000.

The Lee family are apparently delighted to have their café back, despite the loss of a year's income, as well as now being in further debt in order to pay the extra $70,000. "I want to yell, "Hey, that may be how they do things in Korea, where you come from, but here in America you have rights!" says Jacob, but then he reconsiders, concluding with, "But, well, that IS how things are done in America. Sadly."

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