Development Without Eminent Domain
The Post-Dispatch ran an article today discussing the construction of Centene’s new headquarters building here in Clayton. As the article points out, there was a time when Centene claimed that it could not pursue this project unless the city used eminent domain to get rid of a neighbor who demanded more money for their property than Centene wanted to pay. The case went all the way to the Missouri Supreme Court, which created what many developers and city officials consider to be a nightmare scenario by ruling that eminent domain could not be used to force the reluctant neighbor to give up their property.
So what happened? Did the project collapse? Has Centene been forced to go elsewhere? Absolutely not! When the courts rejected the use of eminent domain, Centene simply ponied up the selling price (via a third party, because the owner took a principled stand against giving the property directly to Centene) that the neighbor had been asking for all along. This is a perfect example of how development can be done without sacrificing anyone’s constitutional liberties. Sure, Centene had to pay more for the property than they would have preferred — but if their development turns out to be as valuable as they expect, the additional money spent will still be well worth it.