MDHA files to dismiss Tower suit

City responds quickly to key landowner's claims

The back-and-forth between city officials and a key convention center landowner continued Thursday.

The Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency filed a motion to dismiss a complaint by Tower Investments in Davidson County Chancery Court. Tower is seeking the records of appraisals MDHA asked for on the company’s 5.6 acre tract.

Tower claims the agency promised to turn over the appraisals in exchange for unprecedented access to financial records. MDHA made what Tower claims is a “ridiculously low” offer for the property – the largest single tract in the convention center’s footprint – and later began proceedings to condemn the property.

MDHA tendered $14.8 million during the eminent-domain proceedings, roughly the same amount Tower paid for the land in 2007. That tender was made the same day Tower attorney’s filed an open-records request for the three appraisals MDHA contracted on the land. MDHA refused the open-records request, prompting Tower’s legal action.

In its motion – which is available here along with supporting statements – the agency says the appraisals are not subject to the state open-records law because they were prepared in anticipation of the eminent-domain lawsuit. MDHA also counters that neither Tower, nor any of the other landowners who allowed access for the property appraisals, was compelled to turn over any records during the appraisal process.

MDHA also refutes the claim of a “ridiculously low” price leveled by Tower.

“MDHA respectfully disagrees and believes that the evidence in the condemnation action will show that $14.8 million represents a fair … offer under current market conditions. … MDHA is charged with the responsibility of ensuring fair and just compensation for property owners. In fact, under the Tennessee Constitution and applicable law, MDHA is prohibited from paying more than just compensation for any property," the motion reads, in part.