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Nashville's MDHA loses appeal on Music City Center Land Case - John Dunn

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NASHVILLE, TN - A costly defeat for the city of Nashville that will cost taxpayers nearly $20 million. It's all related to a lawsuit filed over land for the new Music City Center. Part of that land was originally owned by Tower Investments. The lawsuit, which just wrapped up Wednesday, was about how much money the city paid Tower for its land.

The city paid $14.8 million, and took the property through eminent domain. Tennessee's Supreme Court has upheld a jury's decision that the Metro Development and Housing Agency must pay a total of $30.4 million for land, more than double the original amount.

"You know eminent domain is something that is needed to be used, but it shouldn't be abused obviously, and you need to pay fair-market value for the property," says Tower's Senior Vice-President John Pierce.

The city must also pay at least $3.6 million in interest, money that has accrued over several years of legal battles.  MDHA released a statement saying, "We have the greatest respect for the court but we are obviously disappointed by the ruling. We still believe Tower's request was exorbitant given the value of the land at  that time."

Tower's vice-president says the city could have saved money by negotiating a lower settlement before the case went to trial. "Obviously it would have been better for everyone had we been able to negotiate a settlement at the beginning," says John Pierce.
A spokesperson for MDHA claims taxpayers will not be affected, since the money used to pay the settlement will come out of bonds issued for the new convention center. However, those bonds are being re-paid by tourism tax dollars.

A jury initially ruled against Metro in this case in 2011. The court of appeals denied Metro's appeal, and Wednesday's order by the Tennessee Supreme Court should finally bring this litigation to an end.

For news updates follow John Dunn on twitter @WZTVJohnDunn

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