A Block 57 landowner has lodged a $4 million lawsuit against Salt Lake City and the city's Redevelopment Agency, charging the city's redevelopment plan for the ailing block is making it impossible for him to do business.
Charles Horman, of S.M. Horman & Sons, which owns property facing Main and Third South streets and leases the Harver Warehouse in Block 57's interior, wants the $4 million in damages if the city continues with its 1982 redevelopment plan for the block, the suit says.The city's redevelopment plan, in part aimed at acquiring property on Block 57 - bordered by State, Main, Second South and Third South streets - with Redevelopment Agency money, has interfered with Horman's business, the suit charges.
The suit, filed in 3rd District Court, is the second action Horman filed against the city. The first, filed in U.S. District Court in January, was dismissed without opposition from Horman when the city argued the federal court lacked jurisdiction.
The city has made it "impossible for the plaintiff to rehabilitate (Horman's) property . . . rent the property, or otherwise use it for the only purpose for which it is suitable," the suit said.
Publicity about RDA's intent to buy property and condemn businesses for redevelopment purposes has caused other tenants to vacate buildings and opened up Horman's property to vandalism, the suit says.
The city's failure to successfully implement its redevelopment plan has drawn out the negative effects for six years, causing Horman $4 million in damages, the suit says.
Despite several public meetings during which Block 57 property owners complained that delays in the redevelopment plan were hurting businesses, the RDA continued with the plan, the suit charges.
Additionally, the suit says the city restricted Horman and other businesses from negotiating with other buyers to sell their land, by threatening landowners with the city's power of eminent domain.
Horman was wrongly influenced by the city to lease his warehouse to a sporting goods chain in 1986, which, when it learned the city might condemn the property, looked elsewhere.
And finally, extensive damage was done to some of Horman's property in 1986 when Salt Lake police officers conducted a training exercise in one of his buildings, the suit says.
Horman has been trying to sell the property he controls on Block 57, not all of which is contiguous, to the RDA, said RDA attorney William Oswald.
Horman, "an anxious seller," according to Oswald, placed the value of the land at $4 million. But the RDA is only willing to discuss purchasing parts of Horman's land following a reappraisal of the land.
If the land was appraised at an acceptable value, "I suspect there would be a potential for the agency to buy the property,' Oswald said.