Ex-Owner of Buster Brown Building Loses Eminent Domain Case

By on May 18, 2018

From St. Louis Post-Dispatch:  A former property owner could have to repay St. Louis over $200,000 after a jury returned a verdict in favor of the city in a long-running legal fight over the value of a building taken through eminent domain.

The jury deliberated for just more than 20 minutes after a six-day trial before siding with the city that the value of the now-demolished Buster Brown shoe building at the corner of Jefferson and Cass avenues was worth $573,000. Its former owner, Jim Osher, had been awarded $810,000 by a commission that reviewed the value paid by the city after using eminent domain to acquire it in 2016. Osher argued at trial that it’s value was closer to $5.5 million.

The building was purchased as the city was assembling a 100-acre site in north St. Louis that it is preparing to hand over to the federal government. The NGA, which has its western headquarters in south St. Louis near the Anheuser-Busch brewery, plans to build its new campus there and move its 3,100-plus jobs to the area.

The city acquired dozens of properties to make way for the move, and Osher was the final owner fighting the price paid by the city for his property.

Though the trial centered around the value of the Buster Brown shoe factory, it dredged up new questions about developer Paul McKee’s Northside Regeneration plan in the area and the developer’s use of a now-lapsed state tax credit program.

Osher had pointed to a sale of the Buster Brown building to McKee in 2011 for $3.75 million to argue the building had a far higher value than the city paid.

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