5/11/2007

Building owners concerned about potential use of eminent domain for convention center: Midland TX Reporter-Telegram, 5/2/07

By Colin Guy

After receiving a "letter of consideration" from Midland Mayor Mike Canon the owners of Reynolds Brothers Reproduction and the owners of at least six other nearby properties have signed a petition indicating that they are opposed to having to relocate their businesses in order to accommodate a new convention center.

Chuck Reynolds told the Reporter-Telegram they have visited with Canon and At-large City Councilman Wes Perry twice about selling their property should voters approve the construction of a new convention center in November and have informed them that they are not interested in relocating.

According to the letter sent to property owners in the area, they were provided with the options of either receiving 150 percent of the value most recently determined by the Midland Central Appraisal District, or selecting an appraiser from a list provided by the city to provide a new appraisal while the city does the same. The property owner would then receive 125 percent of the higher of the two appraisals.

Reynolds said the possibility of the city using eminent domain to acquire land for a convention center was raised during the most recent meeting, but that he was told it would only be used if there were only "a couple of holdouts." Asked whether eminent domain would be used if several owners refuse to sell voluntarily, Canon responded that it is premature to comment. He said some of the property owners who signed the petition may not be within the boundaries for the convention center site and he has not had a chance to visit with some of the other property owners.

Reynolds said during the initial meeting with Canon, Perry and other property owners that they were told the proposed site would include properties located between Illinois Avenue to the south and Michigan Avenue to the north. Since then, he said, the proposed boundaries have been changed and he has learned that some buildings will no longer be effected, but that he has not been able to find out from the city anything about the new proposed boundaries.

"We've been here for 54 years, my father and uncle started this business in 1953 and we've been here all this time," Reynolds said. "They shouldn't be able to tell us to leave."

Reynolds added that his company makes a lot of deliveries to offices in downtown Midland and there are no other locations in the area that would be suitable.

Gary S. Barker, co-owner of Barker-Brown Investments, LLC, told the Reporter-Telegram he has recently refurbished his building and is also not interested in selling it to the city. In addition to his own company Barker rents office space to seven tenants who would also be forced to relocate and he indicated that some of the other buildings in the area are occupied my multiple tenants.

City Manager Rick Menchaca has indicated that there are three possible locations for a convention center under consideration. One of these options, he said, is expanding Midland Center to the east. Menchaca has declined to divulge the other potential site locations while negotiations with property owners are still in process.


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