Should Eminent Domain be Used on Music Row?

Don't Let Myths Sidetrack Great Project



As published in the Nashville Business Journal .

There are many myths swirling around The Lionstone Group's proposal to redevelop the blighted triangle at Division and Demonbreun Streets with a $100 million, mixed-use office and retail complex.

Myth: Eminent domain is improperly being used to assist a private developer in acquiring this property.
Fact: Tennessee law only permits the use of eminent domain to redevelop blighted areas. This area collapsed economically when the Hall of Fame relocated. Its revitalization is an important public purpose. Private development is encouraged in such areas to accomplish this public purpose without using city tax dollars. In this case, the Metro Council, the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency, the area's land owners, concerned citizens and the developer worked together to formulate a plan to redevelop the area.

Myth: The developer is attempting to acquire Joy Ford's property at a discount and avoid negotiation with her.
Fact: Lionstone's original 2006 offer was the same price per foot it paid in the purchase of the adjacent 3 acres. It has increased that to an amount vastly in excess of the fair market value. These offers have been rejected by Ford, who has refused to negotiate.

Myth: Ford wants to be left alone.
Fact: Ford has opposed Lionstone's right to redevelop its property, employing a lobbyist and attorneys to set up roadblocks. When the city abandoned the right of way for an unbuilt alley that touched the rear of her property, she sued Lionstone and the city. After the judge dismissed her case, she appealed.

Myth: Lionstone could build around her.
Fact: Lionstone has fully explored this option. Given Ford's opposition to any redevelopment and litigious nature, Lionstone concluded it would be virtually impossible to build around her parcel.

Myth: These redevelopment activities will drive Ford out of business.
Fact: Ford is a successful businesswoman, primarily operating in Hendersonville as a former nightclub owner and a recording studio owner. She acknowledges she seldom uses the Music Circle building and has rejected Lionstone's offer of free space in its new building on Music Row. Lionstone has exhausted every avenue to avoid eminent domain, but Ford has blocked those efforts. It would be unfair to permit her to deny the city and Music Row neighborhood this project.