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Philadelphia artist's struggle against eminent domain continues

Discrepancy in the valuation of property is a common issue in eminent domain disputes. A city or a school district will enter into negotiations with a property owner, and each side has the property appraised. It may not be surprising that in many cases, the buyer's assessment turns out to be much lower than the seller's assessment.

That has been the case in a much-publicized and ongoing eminent domain dispute in Philadelphia. If you live in the area, you have probably heard of the artist James Dupree and his fight to keep his studios on Haverford St. The city issued a condemnation order for the 9,000-square-foot property back in December 2012.

In most cases, use of eminent domain is reserved for "public use" projects such as the construction of a new school or a road. The story is different for the Dupree property. According to the city's Reinvestment Fund, the neighborhood around the artist's property has only "limited supermarket access." However, there are corner groceries in the area.

The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority plans to evict the artist, demolish his studios and build a parking lot and a supermarket complex.

Such a deal may not be far-fetched under particular circumstances, but Dupree says that city has offered in compensation only a fraction of what the property is and will be worth. He says that since he acquired the property in 2005, he has invested significant amounts of money in upgrades and repairs. He also pointed out that nearby Drexel University continues to expand closer to his studios, meaning the value of the real estate is likely to go up.

Dupree has said that he intends to fight back against the city. Anyone faced with such a battle would be wise to seek help from an attorney with experience in eminent domain disputes.

For more details on the discrepancy between the city's property valuation and the owner's property valuation, please see our earlier post -- "Philadelphia artist fights city's condemnation of studio."

Source: Philadelphia Business Journal, "In plan for supermarket, one man stands in the way (photo gallery)," Peter Van Allen, Jan. 29, 2014

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