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Nashville’s Joy Ford wins eminent domain lawsuit against private developer


Ford keeps her building and gets more land; conflict settled through private negotiation, not government force

CPRC Member

CPRC member opposes eminent domain in downtown Clarksville

Arlington, Va.— Eminent domain will not be used against Nashville music entrepreneur Joy Ford in a hotly contested battle about the abuse of government for a developer’s private gain.  In an agreement signed Tuesday night, September 30, Ford, who has fought eminent domain since June of this year, keeps both her building and obtains more land adjacent to her building along Nashville’s storied Music Row while agreeing to give up land behind her office.

“This agreement is a magnificent victory for Joy Ford and all Tennessee home and small business owners,” said Scott Bullock, senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, which represented Ford and fights eminent domain abuse nationwide.  “By challenging eminent domain abuse, Joy Ford obtained a landmark agreement where she keeps her building and gets more and better land next to it.”

Under the agreement, Ford will exchange a portion of her back parking lot measuring 50 feet wide and 73 feet deep for a parcel adjacent to the eastern (right) side of her building measuring 49 feet wide and 105 feet deep.  Nashville’s Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (MDHA) did not participate in the negotiations between Ford and Lionstone.

This agreement demonstrates what can happen when private parties sit down to work something out without the government.” ~~ Scott Bullock.

The Institute, along with Nashville eminent domain attorney Jim Fisher of Lassiter Tidwell, represented Joy Ford throughout the controversy, including negotiations over the agreement.

Clarksville eyes have been watching this case, given that the city has implemented a redevelopment ordinance in which an assemblage clause could conceivably see land or homes taken from residents to complete deals with private developers. It is one of several sticking points that Clarksville’s Property Rights Coalition had been fighting. the city’s ordinance essentially declares two square miles (1800 home sand businesses) as blighted and ripe for re-development.

In June, the MDHA filed an eminent domain action against Ford to obtain her entire parcel of land so that it could be given to a Houston-based private developer, Lionstone Group, to construct an office building.  Under pressure, MDHA in August dropped its eminent domain suit against Ford’s building but demanded that Ford settle by giving up virtually the entire back portion of her long, narrow parcel of property.  Ford rejected this demand, but came up with an alternative proposal:  she would exchange a portion of the back of her property for more accessible land on the east side of her building owned by Lionstone.  After weeks of intense negotiations, Lionstone agreed to the proposal.  The agreement is solely a swap of land.  No money was exchanged.

I am elated with this agreement. This battle was never about money.  It was about protecting my rights and keeping my family’s legacy on Music Row.  Now I will have a more accessible and better parking area for my clients’ cars, trucks and buses while they are visiting Country International.” ~~ Joy Ford.

Although Ford achieved victory in her battle, she is not done with her fight against eminent domain abuse, pledging to work with other property owners and Metro and state legislators to stop eminent domain abuse.  “I will not rest until eminent domain is stopped being used on behalf of private interests.”


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