Council votes eminent domain for juice plant : Orange County CA Register, 5/16/07

OCTA would provide $24 million for 1,000-space parking structure

By Barbara Giasone

In a rare move, the City Council on Tuesday voted to use eminent domain to acquire 2.83 acres at 130 W. Commonwealth Ave., to build a public parking structure for transportation center commuters.

The property, owned by World Citrus West, was vacated in March 2006. The juice company has been unsuccessful in selling the total 5.2 acres, although three developers have shown an interest in building a mixed public/private venture.

Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Rob Zur Schmiede said the city offered to buy the 2.83 acres it wants from the property for $7.4 million based on negotiations with the Orange County Transportation Authority to provide 1,000 more parking spaces for commuters.

OCTA has budgeted more than $24 million in state transportation funds for the project. Another $16 million may be available, based on increased Amtrak and Metrolink ridership by 2020.

World Citrus attorney Gary Weisberg questioned the necessity of the structure.

The next step is to file a complaint in Orange County Superior Court for eminent domain. The court will determine whether the Agency has the right to take the property, and if so, determine the just compensation amount the city should have to pay.

Orange County CA Register: http://www.ocregister.com