The Ada County Highway District is set to condemn a property that houses a Jacksons convenience store at State Street and Pierce Park Lane because the property owner rejected the district’s offer to buy it.
The district says it needs the property, at 6400 W. State St., for a planned roadway construction project at the intersection. ACHD said it had “attempted to negotiate, in good faith, to purchase” the land by offering fair market value. But the owner said the offer was too low.
The project would be part of a series of intersection improvements along State. It would reconfigure Pierce Park Lane so that it intersects State at a nearly 90-degree angle.
ACHD plans for construction to begin in January 2021. Condemnation means the store and its Chevron gas pumps would be demolished.
ACHD said it offered an undisclosed amount to the owner, the Victory Revocable Trust, for the land, building improvements, underground fuel tanks, piping and the canopy over the station. Furniture and equipment were excluded.
The district went back and forth between Mike Victory, the trust’s trustee, and eventually his lawyer, Wyatt Johnson. Johnson told the Statesman by phone on Wednesday that he didn’t remember the exact offer ACHD made, but that it was too low.
As a result, ACHD staff asked the commissioners on Wednesday to move forward with condemnation, which allows the district to move forward with taking the land through eminent domain, per Idaho Code.
The U.S. and state constitutions require government entities to pay fair value for property they take through eminent domain. If an agreement cannot be reached, ACHD has to sue the property owner for a court rule on what a fair value is for the property it is taking.
“I think it would be easier for everyone if they produced a fair value offer,” Johnson said. “My client would be happy to take a fair value offer.”
The full property is just under 0.3 acres, and its valuation is $773,300 in 2019, according to records from the Ada County Assessor’s office. That includes the retail gas station, which was first built in 1999 and is 1,965 square feet.
The ACHD commissioners voted 4-1 to condemn the property. Commissioner Jim Hansen voted no, saying that based on current designs for the intersection project, he did not think condemning the property “was in the public interest.”
“It’s at the very least premature,” he said.
ACHD is also working on similar lawsuits for other properties it has taken, most notably a suit against the owners of iconic Smoky Davis smoked meat shop. ACHD demolished the shop as a part of its expansion of the State Street/Veterans Memorial Parkway/36th Street intersection.
In that case, ACHD took only part of the land, and the owners of the store believe they are owed money to rebuild their store on the remaining land. Records obtained by the Idaho Statesman in August showed that ACHD spent $273,000 to litigate that case — more than what it had originally offered the owners.