Eminent domain is the legal process by which the government obtains real estate for public use. Through the process of eminent domain, which is recognized in the U.S. Constitution, the government is able to take ownership of real estate by paying the owner for the fair market value of the property. A recent eminent domain case in Florida underscores how the process works.
Eminent domain and Disney World
Theme parks and resorts are major businesses in Florida. In 2021, the state of Florida exercised its eminent domain authority to construct a new road leading to the Walt Disney World theme park and resort complex outside Orlando. The new roadway stretch is part of the state’s broader I-4 highway project.
A major sticking point associated with the construction of this roadway has been the Crossroads Shopping Center and its 25 tenants. Negotiations between the owner of the shopping center and tenants were ongoing for an extended period of time, but a settlement has finally been reached.
Crossroads Shopping Center settlement
The mall owner as well as the 25 tenants with active leases at the shopping center will be paid a total of $198 million. Of that amount, just over $149 million goes to the company that owns the shopping center, and $10 million goes to cover the attorney fees and other costs for legal counsel for the mall and tenants. The balance is meant to address the tenancy interests of businesses leasing at the shopping center.
Eminent domain cases can prove complicated as is exemplified by the matter involving Crossroads Shopping Mall, Disney World and the state of Florida. A person facing an eminent domain case may be able to best protect their interests by engaging experienced legal counsel.