Business takings

Is your business or commercial property condemned?

They call it the price of progress, but if you own a business or commercial property targeted by eminent domain, the price may be very high. Make sure you seek maximum compensation.

Can the government take my business under eminent domain?

is eminent domain different for a business

As the owner of a commercial property or business in North Carolina faced with an eminent domain taking, you could be facing an existential threat. But before you act, you need to know what you’re up against.

There are some misconceptions about how eminent domain affects NC commercial properties and businesses, what you can claim compensation for, who can take your property, and what the law says. This guide helps breaks down what you need to know.

Commercial property impacted by eminent domain: What are they taking?

No matter who the condemning authority is, eminent domain is about land and what’s on that land. The government isn’t taking your business. They’re taking the property out from under it.

And, since the buildings – also known as improvements – are attached to the land, they’re also being taken. The business itself is still yours.

What if the land and location are critical to my business?

Every property is unique and has unique characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages. If your business is such that it cannot operate on any other property within a reasonable distance, you’re very likely to lose your business when eminent domain takes possession.

You are entitled to compensation for relocation expenses, but it may not be a part of the initial offer. You will likely have to ask – or fight – for them.

The value of commercial real estate can be incredibly dependent on characteristics tied to location – often due to traffic but sometimes due to the situation of the land itself. An eminent domain taking could destroy that value – and property owners should seek fair compensation.

Don’t guess. We can evaluate your case for free and give you an idea of where you stand. Call us at 1-877-393-4990 as soon as possible to try to protect your rights.

Can the government take my business under eminent domain?

The government can take the land on which your business sits. It doesn’t seize your business, but it may destroy the building or the property’s ability to support your business by taking the land. So, even though the government won’t take your business, you may still lose it.

Can the government take over my business?

Eminent domain takings are solely about the land, as far as the government or condemning authority is concerned. They are not interested in operating your business. They’re seizing the land underneath it. The government generally doesn’t assign value to your business at all.

For example, the NCDOT may take land you need for parking lots, drive-thru lanes, and entrances. They may need the corner of the property where your service station has a storage tank or large roadway sign to attract customers. Or they may take a portion of your land for an easement that prevents you from using it and cripples your business as a result. The NCDOT has put four-lane highways through the heart of cattle farms – putting those farms out of business.

The NCDOT isn’t in the restaurant, gas station, farming, or any other business. They’re all about roads, which means they’re all about land. Your business just happens to be in their way.

Can I fight an NC eminent domain taking?

Eminent domain means the government can take your land to build a road, utility easement, drainage, or for any public use. Fighting an eminent domain taking is very difficult and rarely successful – although it can and has happened. The earlier in the planning stage you start that fight, the better, but our experience is that your energy is better spent seeking maximum compensation.

Generally speaking, if the NCDOT wants to build a road where your business is, you’re going to lose the land. And if your business cannot relocate, you’ll lose it as well. You will want to seek compensation for relocation expenses to help you mitigate that problem, and an experienced attorney can help.

 

Can I get business damages in eminent domain?

Unfortunately, the business or profit you lose due to an eminent domain project like a road or utility easement is not their concern. You cannot claim compensation for lost profits in North Carolina. However, you do have rights as a property owner, and any infringement on those rights could be cause for compensation.

For example, if the NCDOT blocks the only entrance for your property, you should be compensated. If they do not offer compensation, you’ve become the victim of inverse condemnation – taking of land or rights without compensation. In that case, you may want to bring a case against the NCDOT.

Or, let’s say a utility company is burying a line across the street from your business, but parks their equipment on your property without compensating you. The NCDOT should pay you for their “temporary” easement – a place to park their equipment.

Why is the government taking land from my business?

Commercial real estate is especially vulnerable to eminent domain projects because it often sits along major roadways and thoroughfares. This is prime location, but it is also where traffic is most likely to increase, and projects will happen.

Remember that any eminent domain taking must be for a public use. The government cannot simply seize your land for no reason, nor may it declare that it is taking your land and then wait a decade before acquiring it. Why is that important?

Does commercial property require special eminent domain knowledge or experience?

Commercial property is a far more complex animal than residential property in many ways. Things like business leases, customer access, traffic, signage, and so on are things that no homeowner has to deal with. The NCDOT has this knowledge – but they won’t necessarily share it with you.

Contact the law firm with four former NCDOT attorneys

If your business is in the crosshairs of an eminent domain project, call us as soon as possible. As a businessperson, we understand that you may have experience negotiating. The NCDOT is a very different opponent. Put our knowledge, perspective, and experience in your corner.

If we can’t get you more than the initial offer for your property, we guarantee you won’t pay us a dime – not even for costs we incur fighting your case. Call us at 1-877-393-4990 or contact us online. We’ll listen, ask questions, and develop an evaluation of your case up front at no cost.

Get a free case
evaluation today.

There are only a handful of attorneys in NC who practice eminent domain exclusively, and even fewer with NCDOT experience. We have several. That’s why its worth getting in touch with us for a free case evaluation.

Here’s how it works:

1) Tell us about your situation.

2) We research your property as needed, using DOT maps, our own technology, and experience to see the exact effects.

3) We let you know what we think a fair offer would be. This evaluation is free, and there’s no
pressure or obligation to hire us after.

But please don’t wait to act. Waiting can hurt your case, and the cost is the same: free.

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