Developer Wolstein Testifies In Flats Eminent Domain Case: Newsnet-5, Cleveland OH, 5/25/07

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The eminent domain saga involving developer Scott Wolstein's vision for the east bank of the Flats [in Cleveland OH] continued in court Friday when Wolstein took the stand.

The developer wants to put up condos, shops and restaurants, but some of the Flats property owners aren't budging, saying the offer to sell to Wolstein isn't fair.

Wolstein on Friday pushed his case to revitalized and rebuild the Flats in a $230 million project, but the court case is far from over, reported NewsChannel5's Alicia Scicolone.

Wolstein was grilled by defense attorney Ken Seminatore about the Wolstein Group's history. Wolstein didn't know most of it because back then his father was in charge of the company.

"You obviously know more about this than I do, so why don't I ask you the questions?" Wolstein said.

It wasn't until an hour into questioning that Wolstein said something.

"The reason we are here is because the property owners that haven't accepted offers. Some have, and some of those offers in settlement are far in excess of my opinion of fair market value, but we're willing to pay them," he said.

But the remaining landowners said they don't think Wolstein and the Cleveland Cuyahoga County Port Authority's price for the land is a fair one.

Port Authority is suing those nine owners and are trying to take the land by eminent domain.

"This particular group of property owners have demanded many multiples of fair market value, and that's why there isn't a willing buyer that's willing to pay the price that a willing seller is willing to accept," said Wolstein.

It is up to the probate court to determine whether the city can force out the remaining landowners.

If that happens, it will be up to a jury to decide the value of the properties.

The case could take a few more weeks.

Newsnet-5, Cleveland OH: http://www.newsnet5.com