“The power to take private property for public use by a state, municipality, or private person or corporation authorized to exercise functions of public character, following the payment of just compensation to the owner of that property.”
That is how eminent domain is defined.
In the case of the City and Davis Garage, which is located in the old train station off of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive near Winston-Salem State University, eminent domain is a no-brainer and should swiftly lead to the legal conclusion of a years-long fight to reclaim the train station.
The City has exercised its right of eminent domain against Davis Garage for the purpose of revitalizing the old depot to accommodate the city’s desire to attract economic development in the area and revitalize the station itself. We are at a loss to understand why this process has taken so long even though the city has agreed to pay Davis twice as much as was first offered.
The only explanation we can come up with is that the wheels of government move like molasses when it involves matters east of Highway 52. The need for economic development in the eastern part of the city is nothing new. With declining population, high crime rate and an aging population, East Winston does not present a pretty picture for economic development. So, when an opportunity like this comes along, the City should move quickly and forcefully.
The City, as we understand, has agreed to pay Davis $1.3 million, again, that’s almost twice the first offer. We doubt very seriously if Davis paid anywhere near that amount for the building. He’s making out like a bandit. He should take his million dollars and move on.
And isn’t that the way it goes? The city continues to make millionaires on the backs of the poor and oppressed. Remember the old downtown Stouffer Hotel? The City got a multi-million dollar UDAG grant for the development because the hotel was simply near a pocket of poverty and would be good for black folks because it would mean jobs. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
We know for sure that if another university was involved we wouldn’t be at this stalemate. Winston-Salem State needs the lift that this project represents. The university is emerging as one of the region’s most respected historically black institutions and deserves all that this property ultimately will mean to its continued success.
The City has satisfied all of the elements of legally required. We encourage officials to get this done and get it down now.