Bob Hing, owner of Scottsdale Resort and Athletic Club, Scottsdale, Arizona, is suing the city of Scottsdale for $100 million after it announced plans to forcibly purchase his property to build a fire station, according to an article by The Arizona Republic. The city said building a fire station on the property would improve fire department response times to area residents.
Hing is fighting Scottsdale’s claim of eminent domain over a vacant stretch of 1.5 acres that he owns near his club. Hing said he entered into a formal contract in March to sell the parcel—and the adjacent five-acre tennis club—to a Phoenix developer for $10 million. But on June 21, Scottsdale City Council voted to invoke eminent domain and seize the site, according to the article.
Eminent domain concerns the right of a government to take private property for public use following the property owner’s Fifth Amendment right to just compensation for the property.
“[I]f you proceed with this condemnation, you will be engaged in a very long and extensive litigation process,” Hing told the Scottsdale City Council at that June 21 meeting, according to a transcript of the meeting. “I can assure you that we are prepared to take it all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. So if you want to proceed, this will probably become the most expensive fire station that you could imagine the city ever building.”
The value of Hing's property came into question at that June meeting. Scottsdale public works director Dan Worth and real-estate appraiser Dennis Lopez disagreed on what it was worth. Lopez, an appraiser that Scottsdale hired, estimated its worth at $1.25 million. In court, Lopez increased that figure to $1.4 million due to increased property values. The city's appraisal, however, is about 40 percent lower per square foot than the developer, IPA, had reportedly agreed to pay for the larger property, the Republic article noted Hing said. Appraiser Peter Martori, an expert witness for Hing, stated the property is worth about $2.6 million.
“I heard Mr. Hing’s concern about the value and receiving fair value,” Councilwoman Linda Milhaven said later at the same meeting. “And if we can’t agree, the city and Mr. Hing on a value, then the courts will decide what is fair and just.”
Hing opened the Scottsdale Racquet Club in 1971, and he expanded it to include a health club and resort in 1999.