Waiting in Limbo for 20 Years
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"It was a long drawn out experience not knowing when or what."
For many years, Herbert and Joanne Corey ran their restaurant equipment business in the older section of downtown Greenville, out of a building that sat on nearly an acre of land. They had been thinking about closing the business and selling the building.
Then, in 1991, the Coreys and their downtown neighbors began hearing rumors that the state was optioning property in that area for a road project. Once the rumors spread, it was too late for the Coreys to sell or rent; no one was interested in buying property they knew was on the state's radar.
"I went out of business."
"I couldn't move the property and I couldn't maintain it because I wouldn't be able to rent it to get any income. Therefore, I was just stuck with it," explained Corey. "And I paid the taxes and insurance for about twenty years."
That's right. It took 20 years for the NCDOT to finally condemn the property and make the Coreys an offer.
The NCDOT told the Coreys that the building that once housed their business would have to be demolished which would cost tens of thousands of dollars, which would have to be deducted that from the Coreys settlement. Then, the NCDOT labeled the property as "acreage" despite its downtown location and hook-ups for water, sewer, and other utilities. According to the state, the Coreys property was worth significantly less than the couple believed.
The Coreys were in shock.
"I wanted someone with experience to handle it."
At a community meeting about the road project, the Coreys were introduced to Attorney Stan Abrams of the North Carolina Eminent Domain Law Firm. Stan impressed the Coreys.
"He had worked for the DOT," reasoned Herbert, "and he knew how this whole operation worked. I wanted someone with experience to handle it."
After reviewing the NCDOT's appraisal and researching the value of other properties in the area, Stan and his team found that the NCDOT fell short. Armed with this knowledge, the firm was able to settle the case for the Coreys for nearly double the state's original offer.
After twenty years of waiting in limbo, that outcome left Herbert and Joanne with a good feeling.
And what is his advice to someone who is in a similar situation? "Get a lawyer," he advises. "Get one that has experience. And I'd refer them to Stan."