Eminent Domain in Denver: A first-person account, 11/21/07

By Steve Fesch

I own a property [in Denver CO] south of Invesco Field at Mile High. I was born in this town and have always been a loyal Broncos fan. In fact the Broncos fans voted my group www.orangeforceone.com tailgaters of the year in 2004 something that I am proud of.

A few years ago, I purchased [some] property. At the time I didn’t even know the property was near a proposed light rail line. I found out about the LightRail station as I did more research and with that information, I decided to buy the property and pursue my dream of building a life and a business. I was told by the city of Denver that they had a vision of a LoDo [Lower Downtown] atmoshpere similar to what you see surrounding Coors Field.

I purchased the property and signed a long tern lease with a very reputable and solid national company which now faces being removed from the property by the Denver regional Transportation District [RTD]. The company that leases my place has spent thousands of dollars in preparing in upgrading the site to suit their needs and they are now in danger of being forced out.

I went to many of the public transit oriented development meetings over the last few years and never once was I told my property was in danger of being taken via eminent domain by RTD.

It wasn’t until sept 24th that I received their notice of intent to purchase my property. I bought it first and foremost because I’m a Broncos fan and I had plans to have a Broncos Themed sports bar, an office for my business, and a place to live.

It’s been almost 60 days since the initial notice and RTD has yet to provide me with clear information as to why they need to take all of my land. They are telling me they need to widen the road and approximately 40 sq.ft. of my property is in their path. I own 12,000 sq.ft. yet they tell me the rest of my land will be “uneconomically viable” to me even though the city of Denver has agreed to work with me on my development plans with the remaining land which is over 11,960 sq ft. I am willing to work with RTD to give them what is needed for the project, but as of recently I have been unable to get any response from them other than “we are pursuing the aquisition of your entire parcel.”

I’m in favor of the light rail project as I believe it is good for the community of Denver. However I believe that the power of eminent domain is being abused by RTD for their own interests and not the greater good of community. RTD could easily purchase the land they need from me and save the tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra land acquisitions and legal fees, but it appears they have their own agenda for my land which is a very prime piece of real estate surrounded by city, stadium, and RTD land. I’m the only private land owner losing land at the Decatur Station (to my knowledge), but there are a lot more parcels in danger of being condemned. Anyone who lives or works in the path of development is in danger of being effected. There are people losing their homes and business because RTD needs places to store construction materials!

The citizens of Denver need to know the truth about what is happening. I’m reaching out to the pubic to seek out others who are concerned about the property rights we have as Coloradans. I want Coloradans and Americans to know that our property rights are in danger. The way the current laws are written leaves a lot of room for governments to abuse the power of eminent domain and we need to speak-out about this.

Please take a moment to review the information I have at EminentDomainSucks.com, and leave a message. I will be updating the site with new developments.

EminentDomainSucks.com: http://eminentdomainsucks.wordpress.com