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Flats Development Now in Court

Monday, September 25, 2006 at 4:16 PM

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The future of a $230 million development project in Cleveland's Flats district may hinge on a legal case scheduled to start this morning in a downtown courtroom. At issue is the right of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority to acquire private property for developer Scott Wolstein by eminent domain. ideastream's David C. Barnett has more on what's likely to happen today in Cuyahoga County Probate Court.

For the past year, Scott Wolstein says he’s been trying to acquire the land needed for his proposed Flats East Bank project by negotiating with individual property owners who hold title to a number of bars, shuttered restaurants, and parking lots. But, the owners claim there haven’t been any negotiations. That’s when the Port Authority stepped in to acquire the land by eminent domain on behalf of Wolstein. But, in order to do that, Port lawyers have to convince probate judge John E. Corrigan that the properties in question are blighted. Case Western Reserve Law Professor Jonathan Adler says don’t expect this one to be over soon.

Jonathan Adler: Today’s proceedings are the first step in what could be quite a long legal battle. Potentially going all the way up to the Ohio Supreme Court.

To make things go faster, this morning, the Port is expected to ask Judge Corrigan to consolidate all the individual property claims into one case. The judge has set aside three days for all parties to make their arguments. David C. Barnett, 90.3.

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