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Town has plan for neglected properties; would Maryland follow suit? 2

We are discussing how one community outside of Maryland is dealing with commercial real estate owners who allow their properties to deteriorate. A recent news article highlighted two such properties that the town would like to condemn under the state's eminent domain laws. When we left off in our last post, we were talking about the first property, a diner that has been closed since 2008.

The second property is a shopping center owned by an out-of-state company that has been less than open to rehabilitation or any kind of change, according to one town policymaker. The trouble started six years ago, with the departure of anchor tenant Sears. Other tenants decamped, and the town learned earlier this month that another anchor, a supermarket, will be leaving at the first of the year.

These are just two properties that top a list of troubled sites that cry out for redevelopment. If the town council approves the plan to take them over, the redevelopment process would begin.

When any government seizes property under eminent domain, the government must pay fair market value to the owner. That would be straightforward enough with the diner site, but for the shopping center, there's an added layer of complexity -- and cost. The town would have to compensate the tenants that remain and help them to relocate their businesses. A number of members of the council warn that this process will have an impact on more businesses than just the slumlords'.

Again, Maryland communities may not follow this example. The fact remains, though, that there are commercial properties that are costing taxpayers more than they are contributing to the local economy. And, as communities look for ways to help their commercial real estate markets, this idea of condemnation and redevelopment may be more appealing.

Source:, "Evesham to crack down on owners of neglected commercial properties," Todd McHale, Nov. 25, 2012

Our firm works with clients like the ones mentioned in this post who are dealing with real estate issues like condemnation and eminent domain proceedings. The real estate litigation page of our website provides more detail about our Annapolis, Maryland, firm. Please visit if you're interested in additional information.

1 Comment

It is true there are properties that are eyesores and probably cost more than they contribute. However there is something worrisome about a state considering using eminent domain simply for economic reasons and not for its traditional reasons. It does erode freedom to some extent.

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