JAH Attorneys Successfully Represent Client in Condemnation Case Against the DOT
Department of Transportation vs. Assent Property Management, LLC
In 2004, Assent Property Management, LLC purchased an 8 acre site improved with a Service Merchandise Mart along busy East Independence Boulevard to develop a pre-owned luxury automobile superstore complete with top of the line indoor showroom, service department, parts department, collision repair and performance center. The property enjoyed considerable frontage along East Independence and 5 access points (one on East Independence and 4 on adjacent side streets). After completely renovating the building, a grand opening was held in 2008.
Around the same time, the DOT notified Assent that it intended to acquire the entire property for the Independence Road widening and Conference Drive flyover. DOT subsequently determined that only a portion of the property was necessary for its project and on July 11, 2011 filed a condemnation action to acquire a portion of the property and approximately 47,500 square feet of the 100,000 square foot building. Various utility easements were also acquired, as well as slope and temporary construction easements over the access points. The condemnation deposit of $7,697,100 was based on DOT’s contention that the remaining half of the building could still be operated as a car dealership post taking.
A week after filing the condemnation action, DOT gave notice to Assent to vacate the entire property for an unspecified duration in anticipation of the demolition and construction. Assent subsequently closed its car dealership business and vacated the property.
Initial plans showed the proposed cut line diagonally through the building removing the indoor showing, bathrooms, some offices, and portions of the service and parts areas. Subsequent plans proposed a stair-step cut line along the building’s joists.
Assent contended that the North Carolina Building Code prevented the DOT from obtaining permits for work that affected the portion of the building still owned by Assent without the property owner’s consent.
Assent also alleged that DOT’s actions in requiring Assent to vacate the entire property amounted to an inverse taking over and above the initial taking for which Assent was entitled to additional compensation.
The case settled at mediation in September 2012 for $15,000,000 with DOT acquiring the entire property. DOT also gave Assent permission to remove any fixtures remaining on the property.