According to a Pasadena Star-News article, "Pasadena may use eminent domain to seize historical building," next month the City of Pasadena will consider authorizing the use of eminent domain to acquire a historical building designed by California's first prominent female architect, Julia Morgan. The building, located at 78 N. Marengo Ave. near City Hall, was built in 1921, making it one of the earliest historical structures in Pasadena. Pasadena is apparently ready to turn to eminent domain because the historical site has been fenced up and abandoned for more than a decade.
So far, Pasadena's negotiations with the property's owner have been unsucessful, as the City offered $6 million for the site, and the owner countered with an asking price of $12 million. Pasadena apparently hopes the threat of eminent domain will drive a settlement, or at least bring the owner back to the bargaining table.
According to Sue Mossman of the Pasadena Heritage historical preservationist group, the building will be better off in the City's hands than with the owner. According to Mossman:
In general, Pasadena Heritage is not in favor of eminent domain. But there are times when it is the only solution...It just isn't good for a building to sit there boarded up.
If the City plans to use eminent domain to take ownership of the historical site so the property can be repaired and preserved, that would seem appropriate. However, it's another story if the City is going to simply tear down the historical site and redevelop the property. Do we really want to see our historical buildings demolished for the sake of new urban development?
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