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It’s wrong for city officials to threaten Foothills Mall Sears with eminent domain

The Fort Collins City Council, acting as the Urban Renewal Authority and the new owners of Foothills Mall, approved an agreement that provides the beginning steps to formalize the city’s ability to invoke eminent domain to seize land that’s a part of the 100-acre mall property.

Eminent domain is the power of the government to take private property for public use with the compensation for the land seized at market price.

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In regards to the Foothills Mall, there are indications that the possible invocation of eminent domain is being considered on questionable reasoning and may be carried out not for the public good, but instead for private gain.

Sears owns its building in the mall and has rejected an offer to sell the premises to developers Alberta Development Partners and Walton Street Capital, who purchased the mall in July.

Fort Collins officials have already decided the mall is “a menace to the public health, safety, and welfare of the community,” approving an urban renewal plan for the area in 2007, though the city has not filed for condemnation or not.

Condemnation of the mall? The study cites various general infrastructural problems and missing improvements, yet doesn’t cite a single example of anyone getting hurt — not much of a menace to the community, we’d say.

Instead, this threat of eminent domain appears as though somebody is trying to strongarm Sears into forfeiting the land they are legally entitled to with the threat of taking the land by force with the property rights-subverting governmental tool that is eminent domain.

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