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Thursday, June 12, 2008


The Missouri Supreme Court unanimously ruled on June 10 that property owners may sue for financial damages when local governments declare property “blighted” in order to pave the way for a redevelopment that doesn’t occur in a timely manner. A declaration of blight is necessary step for government to use eminent domain to seize private property for redevelopment purposes.

The case involves a suburban Kansas City shopping center the city of Gladstone declared blighted in 2003 as part of a redevelopment plan that later fell through. With the threat of eminent domain looming for five years, the shopping center’s owners say they’ve lost millions of dollars from tenants not renewing leases and a resulting decline in their property’s value. The court dubbed the threatened use of eminent domain that never occurs but causes financial losses for the property’s owners as “condemnation blight.”

The ruling allows a lawsuit for damages brought by the shopping center owners to proceed and overturns a Clay County judge’s summary ruling in favor of the city. The case is Clay County Realty Co. and Edith Investment Co. v. City of Gladstone.

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