Owner says Metro's offer for convention center land too low - WKRN News 2

Owner says Metro's offer for convention center land too low

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The city of Nashville wants to build a new convention center on a 15-acre plot of land in downtown, bordered by Demonbreun Street to the north, Korean Veterans Parkway to the south, 5th Avenue to the east and 8th Avenue to the west.

Tower Investments owns part of the plot and was offered $14.8 million for their share.

The real estate investment firm says the city's offer is not enough and they're prepared to take the matter to court.

"There is the ability to do private development and it would serve the benefits of someone wanting to come into town," John Pierce with Tower Investments, owner of the land.

Joe Conner, attorney for Tower Investments, said because the city and his client value the land at different amounts, a jury of 12 will likely "determine the value of that property."

"It's our position that $60 a square foot is not anywhere close to just compensation," Conner added.

According to the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency, considering the commercial real estate market, their offer for the land is more than fair.

According to Phil Ryan with MDHA, Tower Investments paid $14,780,000 for the property two years ago.  Metro offered them $14.8 million.

"We won't be bullied into paying more than fair market value," said Ryan.  "We're going to protect the public's interest."

Tower Investments says they won't be bullied into giving up their land adding the city's argument of eminent domain will not work for this property.

"They've designated this entire area as blighted, what it means is it's dilapidated, and health and safety are at issue, things of that nature.  That's not the case with this property," said Conner.

The land battle comes as Metro released a new study about how beneficial the new convention will be for Nashville.

A consulting firm estimates a new facility will attract more than a half million visitors and about 270 annual events.

That compares to 218,000 people who attend 234 events at the current convention center located on Broadway.

"They appear to be defendable, solid numbers and I believe should be able to support this project," said Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling.

The city hopes to present its financing plan for the new convention center to the Metro Council next month.

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