Eminent Domain Lawsuit Results in $5 Million Judgment: Business Wire, San Francisco CA, 10/2/06

A jury has awarded a $5 million judgment to the REI sporting goods retailer [in Houston TX], which lost a considerable number of parking spaces through a condemnation proceeding that widened Interstate 10.

REI filed suit against the State of Texas after the government acquired 1 acre of REI’s 3.5-acre retail site in March of last year in an eminent domain proceeding.

The acquisition included over 50% of the parking and rendered the building of no value. “A retail store without adequate parking can no longer operate as a retail store because the store’s customers cannot find a place to park,” said Lewis Realty Advisors principal Mark Sikes, who testified as an expert valuation witness in the case.

The state contended that REI should be compensated $3.3 million. Sikes said that retailer should receive $5 million, reasoning that the property was worth $9.6 million before the eminent domain taking and $4.6 million after the taking.

A jury in Judge Jack Cagle’s Harris County Court-At-Law No. 1, agreed with Mr. Sikes and ruled in favor of REI. The store has been demolished and the retailer moved elsewhere.

The widening of I-10 in west Houston, resulted in dozens of disputes with the state about property values and acquisition prices. The Lewis Realty Advisors team, led by Sikes, handled many cases for Katy Freeway property owners in negotiating fair purchase prices from the state.

The REI case was the first lawsuit to go to jury trial in the Katy Freeway eminent domain takings, Sikes said.

“The taking of a commercial property through eminent domain is a complex event and property owners do not want to tackle it without an expert in this specialized field,” Sikes said. “A significant number of Katy Freeway property owners enlisted our help. The initial offers by the state were consistently too low and the property owners were wise to protest.”

Business Wire, San Francisco CA: http://home.businesswire.com

Lewis Realty Advisors: http://www.lewisrealty.com