Navigable waterways are extremely important parcels of land, as their strategic location and relative scarcity make them not only appealing, but also places their value at a premium. And because owners must be compensated in accordance with the highest and best use of property, and because principles of Fair Market Value also apply, waterfront parcels are worth more—often dramatically more—than their landlocked equivalents. Ackerman & Ackerman has extensive expertise of fighting for property owners whose land has been acquired the government. We have helped shape the law in this field of eminent domain and our scholarly articles in this field can be read in The Michigan Journal of Law Reform.
Detroit Marine Terminal: The Detroit Marine Terminal seizure was initiated by the City of Detroit in order to secure a parcel of waterfront property (located near the city limit of Detroit and Dearborn) as part of plans to build a new municipal water purification plant. Our client received an initial offer of $4,000,000 for its 40-acre site at the foot of the Rouge River and on the Detroit River.
Ackerman & Ackerman negotiated a settlement of $20,000,000 by demonstrating a heightened value for the Detroit Marine Terminal property.
Linked Riverfront Park: A closed metal fabrication plant sat vacant on the Detroit River. The City of Detroit made an initial offer of $654,000 for the property to build a city park. The property was zoned for industrial use but the property owner considered its property to be prime for commercial development. After 4 years of litigation led by Ackerman & Ackerman, the City paid the owner a settlement of $5,500,000. The property was condemned by the City and turned into a public park.
Flood Water Detention – Florida: The city of Clearwater, Florida, filed a suit to obtain a 37-acre parcel of land for flood control prevention. The land was owned by a manufactured housing community. An initial offer of $1,000,000 was offered for the property. Ackerman & Ackerman was retained by the homeowners association and initiated discussions with attorneys for the City of Clearwater. We impressed upon Clearwater, without litigation, that the City needed to pay fair market value to acquire the property. Our client was paid $6,200,000. The city ended up relocating the residents of this community, cleared the land, and converted a portion of the parcel into a nature park.
Houston, Texas: The State of Texas attempted to acquire a sizable parcel of land to expand the Bayport Industrial District southeast of Houston. Prior to our retention as legal counsel, a government attorney had already successfully excluded the owner’s appraisal of the property. Under Texas law, if an owner does not present an appraisal, the verdict for a contested property is entered as $0. Ackerman & Ackerman served as co-counsel in this case, appealed the $0 judgment and obtained a settlement of $4,000,000 for the owner, notwithstanding the initial judgment of $0.
Macomb County, Michigan: A number of local communities owned a public landfill at 23 Mile in Macomb County. Waste site contaminants from the landfill leached into adjacent properties. When sued for inverse condemnation for this contamination, the communities claimed that the impacted property was worth only $1.
Ackerman & Ackerman presented numerous inverse condemnation claims arising from this dispute. These claims surfaced because of government action which diminished the value of a property in contemplation of a future acquisition of the land. When a government acts to take land without following the legally required steps of formal condemnation, which is also known as formal entry, an inverse condemnation claim is available to a property owner. Ackerman & Ackerman has represented a good number of inverse condemnation claims filed by property owners, especially during the days of urban renewal.
Ackerman & Ackerman initiated trial proceedings and a jury was picked. The property owner was paid $1,300,000 for their claim.