City using eminent domain on Plaza Towers land

Grand Rapids making move as part of effort to restore rapids

Grand River, Grand Rapids
Am area along the Grand River that Grand Rapids is obtaining through eminent domain. (Sept. 27, 2017)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The city of Grand Rapids approved a plan to use eminent domain laws to force Plaza Towers’ owners to allow changes to the riverbed near the downtown high-rise.

Grand Rapids city leaders say they engaged Eenhoorn LLC, the business that owns Plaza Towers, in negotiations but have not been able to come up with a deal.

Deputy City Manager Eric DeLong said a number of other property owners along the river cooperated with the city’s effort to restore the river and make it more accessible to the public. He said the ability to renovate the river near Plaza Towers is key to the project.

“Most people have been doing these easements for very little compensation,” DeLong told 24 Hour News 8 Wednesday. “Like a dollar.”

>>PDF: Eminent domain resolution

Eenhorn officials say they plan to work with the city in coming up with a resolution and want to support the plans for the river. They say the city’s talks of using eminent domain came as a surprise.

“We are excited about the river project,” Eenhoorn attorney Andy Kortesoja said in a written statement. “We look forward to working with the City to resolve the matter.”

The city says it has rarely used eminent domain, calling the move a last resort. The law would allow the city to force Plaza Towers to give it the easements it needs for the project. The city would have to pay fair market value for any property seized or easements allowed. If the parties can’t come to an agreement on the terms, the courts could get involved in settling the matter.

“It’s not our choice,” DeLong said. “We are usually able to come to a negotiated settlement with almost any party.”

The city is also in the midst of another dispute with Eenhorn. The company is suing the city for damages connected to historic flooding in the spring of 2013.