Eminent domain is on the table for coveted waterfront property

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The city government could take much-coveted waterfront land from the Old Dominion Boat Club by eminent domain if negotiations falter, but the prospect is not ideal, City Attorney Jim Banks said Tuesday.
    
While the city has offered the club $150,000 for its deed to multiple parking spaces, a portion of Whales Alley and part of The Strand at lower King Street, eminent domain is a last, final resort not part of the plan, Banks said. 
    
Banks held a press conference to tidy up media reports that the city planned to legally force ODBC off its land in the name of public interest.
    
The club and its property at the foot of King Street are in the thick of an otherwise unimpeded public waterfront. Officials hope securing the land will increase public access to the river and aid flood mitigation efforts both elements of the highly contentious waterfront plan.     
    
ODBC has not yet accepted the offer, leading the city to discuss the possibility of eminent domain.
    
At one point, the city, in its negotiations [with the boat club], said that the option of eminent domain was completely off the table and would not be pursued under any circumstances, Banks said. When I came on [to the job], I told them that was probably a mistake.
    
The boat club has refrained from talking publically on the matter.
    
I, the negotiating team, and members of the board have refrained from comment in the press, and we shall continue to honor the understanding that the negotiations will stay confidential, said Bud Hart, ODBCs attorney.
    
The city would not attempt to legally take the private property unless all good-faith negotiations failed, Banks said. Eminent domain is on the table for any property the city deems is in the public interest to own not just the parking spaces or the street, but perhaps the boathouses other waterfront parcels.
    
Right now were just talking about The Strand and parking spaces, Banks said. But there is a larger interest that the city has in public access to the waterfront.
    
The boat club has the luxury of considering its own interest. The city does not have that luxury.

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