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DOT on Target
by Ron Davis

No one seems pleased with the outcome of a dispute involving the appropriation of a shopping center property in the state of Florida.

The dispute involves Target Corp., the owner of the shopping center property, and the Florida Department of Transportation (DOT). The location of the property, in the town of Royal Palm Beach, is part of a DOT project to widen an existing road and build an overpass there.

Target apparently knew nothing of the DOT project when it purchased the site of the shopping center some 15 years ago. At that time, Target submitted a site plan to the town of Royal Palm Beach, explaining its intentions to build a Target store, an adjacent garden center, other retail stores, and a parking area. Town officials approved the plan and merely required Target to submit for their approval any further development.

A few years later, the DOT held public hearings to gain support for the road widening. Because the proposed widening would have resulted in a taking of parcels of the Target property, Target decided against any actions at that time regarding those parcels.

For various financial reasons, Target decided in 2001 to abandon the property and build a larger store nearby. Meanwhile, the DOT had taken portions of the property through eminent domain procedures, and the courts were asked to assess the amount of compensation that should go to Target.

Target requested $2.5 million for business damages. In response, the DOT calculated Target’s business damages at $116,200, arguing that Target did not suffer any business loss because it had moved to the new location.

Target also claimed $9,465,562 in real estate damages. The DOT contended that the real estate damages were limited to $2,433,225.

A jury awarded Target $2.5 million in business damages and $2,433,225 in real estate damages. Neither Target nor the DOT was pleased with the jury award, and both appealed.

A Florida appellate court agreed with the award of real estate damages, but reversed the award of business damages, explaining that although Target had explained its plans for developing the shopping center site, Target had “failed to prove any affirmative steps taken in time, money, or energy toward the proposed expansion of its store.” (State Department of Transportation v. Target Corp., 2006 WL 2355481 [Fla.App. 4 Dist.])

Decision: August 2006
Published: September 2006



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