The former property owner and developer of the property at the corner of Brookline and Empire streets, where the city is planning to build the New Marshall Middle School, has filed suit in Superior Court over the amount of money he was paid for the land.
Cricket Realty Holdings, which had held permits to build a 156-unit apartment building on the site that sits adjacent to the commuter rail train tracks, has filed a suit claiming that the land is worth $6.2 million, rather than the $1.3 million the city paid for it, in an eminent domain taking earlier this year.
“The plaintiff was offered a sum of money by the defendant (city of Lynn) as purported compensation for the taking of their property that is inadequate and does not reflect the fair market value of the property taken by the defendant,” states the complaint by Cricket Realty attorneys.
The suit attempts to make its case for the city’s undervaluing of the property by providing comparable property sales in other communities. However, according to city attorney James LaManna of the Lynn City Solicitor’s office, the suit will likely come down to which value of the property is proved to a jury, and the city will attempt to make its case that the city’s offer was fair given the circumstances that surround that site and the use of actual comparable property sales that Lynn attorneys and appraisers will provide to the court.
“The court can ultimately decide that either value is fair or settle on something in the middle,” said LaManna. “What will happen is that both sides will have multiple appraisals done to try and prove their side.”
LaManna estimated that the case could take 18 months to two-years before it goes before a jury, but said that the case will not impact the plans for the new school.
“The property does belong to the city of Lynn, there is no doubt that we own it, and if the voters vote for the new school proposal, the new school will be built there,” said LaManna.
The main question raised in the lawsuit is whether or not the city paid enough to acquire it.
“Prior to any eminent domain taking the city hires an appraiser to look at the property and determine the fair market value, based on the highest and best of the property,” noted LaManna. “If the property owner doesn’t agree with the appraisal, it is their right to go to Superior Court and file suit to have a higher appraisal affirmed and that is what has happened in this case.”