Change of venue motion filed in Sacramento eminent domain suit! Feel the excitement!

The Sacramento Kings arena battle is deep into its terminal lawsuits phase now, though of course it’s yet to be determined who it will be terminal for. (That’s what the lawsuits are for. Duh!) In the latest twist, the owners of the former Macy’s store that the city wants to seize by eminent domain have filed a motion seeking a change of venue, saying “local bias” would make it impossible for them to get a fair trial in Sacramento.

There’s more detail, but let’s skip straight to this paragraph in the Sacramento Bee’s coverage of the story:

A separate filing spells out just how far apart the city and the property owners are on price. The owners said the property has been valued at $10 million for tax purposes. The city, by contrast, recently put $4.3 million into an escrow account – the amount it says the property is worth.

Seriously, guys? All this over a little more than $5 million in price? Admittedly, that’s real money to normal humans, but it’s a rounding error to a $447 million project. Like all eminent domain cases, this is likely to end with a settlement somewhere in the middle once each side sees on which side its legal bread is buttered.

Meanwhile, the two other Kings arena lawsuits — The One About The Public Ballot Petitions, and The One About The Subsidy Value — are forging on ahead, though with no new developments this week. Yet, anyway.

12 comments on “Change of venue motion filed in Sacramento eminent domain suit! Feel the excitement!

  1. That’s some hardball negotiating. Bought the property (assessor’s parcel number 006-0087-046-0000) in 2012 for $5.8 million, offering $4.3 million because you say it will cost $1.8 million to raze/demo the building and that should come from the property cost?, and yes, the tax office seems to say the land is worth $ 9.5 million and the improvements are nearly 22 million. Is the argument that the land is overvalued without the rest of the mall or just that they’re really, really hoping they’d get a Good Guy Discount from the bank ? They’re paying $396k each year in property tax for the Macys.

  2. Yeah, I have no idea whatsoever why the current owners of the property should help pay for the demolition of it.

    Suppose the estimate to tear it down was $15.8M; does that mean the current owners would have to pay out $10M in addition to giving up the property?

    I’m sorry, but if the building is being torn down, that’s not a problem for the current owners to solve.

    I think a court is likely to tell the City to get the property appraised.

  3. Also, since they bought that building in 2012 for $5.8M, it’s extremely likely the property’s value has increased. Land values are appreciating here, and 2012 was just at the bottom of the market. $4.3M is lowball.

  4. Westfield sold the mall to JMA for $22 million, and JMA sold it for the arena for $36 million. (I know, why didn’t the City just buy it from Westfield, but they weren’t paying attention.) So if the Macy’s was sold for $5.8 million, it’s likely that it’s worth more than that now–not $10 million, but somewhere closer to $8 million.

  5. I wonder if being required to pay $8M and then paying for the demolition themselves might be a tipping point for Kings ownership. Also, who’s on the hook for the demolition — the City (since they would technically own it) or the Kings ownership group?

    $1.5M to demolish that building seems like a very low estimate to me. All you have to do is estimate that it’ll take weeks, and you’re already way over $1.5M.

  6. More vaportecture for you:

  7. Too little, too late: The Bee now sounds skeptical of the arena.

    Makes you wonder what changed.

  8. MikeM

    It sounded more to me like they are upset with the mayor not focusing on other citywide needs as opposed to questioning the arena. Sure, they mention the possibility of derailment of the arena and that the financial numbers are overly optimistic but I don’t think they are turning against the arena necessarily.

    I will say that a September ground breaking is looking less and less likely. People also forget that a judge has over 3 months from the end of the EIR to rule on any potential environmental lawsuits and you can bet that there will be. Given that the EIR isn’t due until April at the earliest, that gives a judge til July or August to have to make a decision. Then you have to tear down the mall as well.

    This is all assuming that a judge decides favorably for the arena people over whether the STOP petition signatures should be considered valid. If not, then you’re looking at a referendum that could scrap the arena plans altogether. At that point, Vivek will have to decide if he wants to carry the entire load in order to have an arena ready in time for a 2017 NBA mandated opening. My guess is he saves his dough and gives the team back to the league.

  9. Basketball fan,
    The legislation that Steinberg carried (SB 743) allows the project to start and actually complete construction prior to the EIR being completed. In other words, they can finish building something that will cause major problems in the neighborhood (traffic – oh wait – traffic cannot be considered according to SB 743, aesthetics – no – can’t consider aesthetics either, glare – at least that one is not mentioned and can be protested) and then later state, “But it’s already built, we can’t change the design to mitigate those problems now.”

  10. I think this is the week STOP finally shot itself in the foot:

    Seems like the best course of action would have been to not address this point at all.

  11. You may have a valid point. However, the brief filed by the4000 lists the attachment to Hanson as a major reason for not validating the petitions. It also makes mention of an appointment for Camacho as a Deputy Director of the Department of General Services and Cathcart acting as a consultant to a legislative committee as proof they “held some of the most important jobs in state government” and were “experienced campaigned operatives” and therefore the petition was not organized by a “grass roots” effort.

    They must not know what a deputy director or a consultant actually does.

  12. The judge appears to be leaning against allowing the petition…