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Self-Storage Victory Over Eminent Domain

Amy Campbell

December 4, 2009

2 Min Read
Self-Storage Victory Over Eminent Domain

This week a self-storage operator in Manhattan won a victory against eminent domain, but not because the court found the practice as a whole to be unconscionable. No, the reason Nicholas Sprayregen, owner of Tuck-It-Away Self Storage, walked away from the appeals court gratified in his ongoing struggle with Columbia University is because the court felt the state took an "unconstitutional" approach to declaring the coveted land as "blighted."

You see, without the neighborhood being in ruin, eminent domain would not be allowed. So last year, the state hired a real estate consultancy firm to conduct a study of the area. The conclusion? Blight. But what we now know is the firm the state hired is the very same one Columbia hired during its own research of the community.

An article in The New York Times reported that the court's majority opinion was "scathing in its appraisal of how the 'scheme was hatched,' using terms like 'sophistry' and 'idiocy' in describing how the state went about declaring the neighborhood blighted, the main prerequisite for eminent domain."

Sprayregen and one other holdout—an owner of two gas stations in the area Columbia wants for its $6.3 billion expansion—won't really prohibit the project, as the university already controls the majority of the 17-acre parcel. But this is still being considered a win on the side of self-storage and other businesses in the battle against eminent domain in the state.

“I feel unbelievable,” Sprayregen told the Times. “I was always cautiously optimistic. But I was aware we were going against 50 years of unfair cases against property owners.”

Are any of you in danger of or currently dealing with an eminent domain struggle relating to your self-storage property? If so, how are you dealing with it? What are your thoughts on eminent domain—should the government have the right to determine the "highest and best" use for a property?

About the Author(s)

Amy Campbell

Editor, Inside Self Storage

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