Nashville Must Pay Millions More for Convention Center Land

Nashville Must Pay Millions More for Convention Center Land
October 21, 2013

Christopher Butler

Christopher Butler writes for Tennessee Watchdog. (read full bio)

The City of Nashville must make up for the $15 million in fair market value a private real estate development company says it lost when city officials used eminent domain laws to take the firm’s land to build the Music City Convention Center.

This is the result of the Tennessee Supreme Court declining to hear an appeal from the city’s Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency. The MDHA had appealed a series of rulings that began when a Nashville jury in 2011 found the city had shortchanged Tower Investments for five-and-a-half acres of land downtown.

Millions More from Taxpayers

That means taxpayers will ultimately pay millions of dollars more for the convention center than city officials promised. The city said the center would cost $500 million.

Tower Investments Vice President John Pierce said that by fighting to the end, which cost the company millions of dollars, Tower accomplished something many other landowners cannot afford to do.

‘Fighting for Citizens’ Rights’

“If you just have a parcel of land or a small business or a farm, and all of a sudden the government comes in and you are subject to condemnation, you are looking at putting out hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, in legal costs that you will not be reimbursed for,” Pierce said.

“Not a lot of people can do that. That is the saddest thing to me about it. I look at it from the standpoint that we are fighting for citizens’ rights to get fair market value for their property, and a lot of people aren’t able to make that fight.”

MDHA spokeswoman Holly McCall said the agency is now prepared to move on.

Double Increase in Value

“We still feel we had a strong case, given the amount Tower paid for the property and the 100 percent increase in value they asked for. But we respect the court’s decision.”

As reported in Tennessee Watchdog, Tower officials have always said the MDHA’s original offer of $14.8 million was well below fair market value. They also said it wasn’t enough compensation for the loss of land in what has become one of Nashville’s most desirable areas.  

The 2011 jury said fair market value for the land was $30.3 million.

Christopher Butler (chris@tennesseewatchdog.org) reports for Tennessee Watchdog, where an earlier version of this article appeared. Used with permission of Watchdog.org.

Christopher Butler

Christopher Butler writes for Tennessee Watchdog. (read full bio)