Eminent Domain: Philadelphia Officials Seize Man’s Property To Build High-End Shopping Area

Philadelphia city officials used eminent domain statutes to seize an art studio owned by James Dupree in order to convert the block into a high-end shopping venue. The 64-year-old painter and muralist poured thousands of dollars into former horse stable to convert the structure into a usable building before the city government initiated proceedings to strip him of his property rights.

James Dupree had this to say about the City of Philadelphia eminent domain proceedings:

“It started right after I purchased the building. They had called this area a blight several years ago, but didn’t move on it until 2005. It’s nothing more than a land grab. And the kicker is the developer who was going to build the shopping area backed out of the deal.”

According to a CBS report, James Dupree is not along in his despair and loss prompted by local government property seizures through eminent domain. Property owners across the country have lost their land through local, state, and federal government legal actions for projects such as bicycle paths, public parks, and simply because their land was in a prime spot for water-based tourism and beach vacations. Dupree is fighting the City of Philadelphia over the eminent domain seizure and has a court date scheduled for next month.

Early Sullivan business litigation attorney Scott Gizer had this to say about what appears to be a growing number of property seizures in America:

“I think there are more cases and as a result, more publicity about them. There’s more land taken for the upgrading of infrastructure like bridges and roads and a lack of land for development. But whatever the reason, it’s a hot button issue with people and creates a negative feeling about government.”

The Kelo V. City of New London, Connecticut US Supreme Court case ushered in a landmark eminent domain ruling in 2005. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the property owners in the neighborhood lost their land due to projects designed to “increase municipal revenue” – such plans never developed and the area remains vacant. Integra Realty Resources Director of Litigation Nicholas Chop said, “That [Kelo decision] ruling allowed the taking of residential property under the idea that it was good for the people. It’s really opened up the floodgates when it comes to eminent domain.”

Some states have passed or are debating legislation designed to curb the powers of governmental entities to strip Americans of their property rights. Many of the pending and approved bills would make it illegal to land grab simply for the purpose of economic development. Despite the eminent domain laws which many believe is a step in the right direction, the mandates must still curtail to federal laws which allow the powers-that-be in Washington, D.C. to continue using eminent domain more freely as allowed under the 2005 Kelo ruling.

What do you think about eminent domain laws being invoked for the purpose of economic development?

[Image Via: Shutterstock.com]