Bar Marley wins eminent domain appeal case

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knoxville Community Development Corporation did not give the owner of Bar Marley sufficient time to respond to an eminent domain action, according to an appeal’s court ruling.

The appeals court ruling on Friday also said the lower court’s ruling gave the public housing authority additional powers it did not have.

The North Knoxville bar has been fighting to stay in place since January 2019 when KCDC approved the eminent domain action allowing for them to take over the property. KCDC sought to take the property they say was blighted and behind in taxes.

The decision gives the bar back to the owner but KCDC can set a new hearing about the property.

After the decision, KCDC released the following statement on Friday:

In its work to implement the 2007 Downtown North I-275 Corridor Redevelopment and Urban Renewal Plan, Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation (KCDC) began contact with the owner of 750 Stone St. in August 2015 with the intent of addressing blight; health and safety issues; and environmental concerns on the site as defined by violations of the International Property Maintenance Code adopted by the City of Knoxville. Beginning in January 2018, with no substantive work completed to address the blighting conditions, KCDC initiated negotiations with the owner for a sale of the property based on appraised value, though no purchase agreement was reached. During this period, the property owner owed more than $23,000 in city and county property tax payments and municipal liens, in addition to a $30,000 environmental lien from the State of Tennessee and other unpaid debts.
In January 2019 and with all reasonable options exhausted, KCDC filed a complaint for condemnation in Knox County Circuit Court and remained willing to negotiate with the property owner during the condemnation process. The court granted condemnation on June 19, 2019, based on the evidence presented in the case. KCDC is permitted to exercise eminent domain under Housing Authorities Law when all other efforts cannot achieve a positive resolution.
KCDC contends that it has followed protocol throughout this process and that it has attempted over a number of years to achieve positive resolution with the property owner through blight remediation or property purchase at a fair market value. KCDC is strongly considering appealing the case to the Tennessee Supreme Court for reinstatement of the trial court judgment so that it may move forward with the redevelopment plan.

Ben Bentley, executive director and CEO
Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation

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