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Eminent domain may be back in Downtown plans

By Dave Copeland
Friday, March 1, 2002

Plans to redevelop Downtown could include the use of eminent domain, despite repeated promises by Mayor Tom Murphy that the controversial tool had been “taken off the table.”
The Plan C Task Force hopes to present a final draft of a sweeping redevelopment strategy for Downtown Pittsburgh to Murphy on Thursday. Task force members have been working under a mandate not to discuss the plan publicly. Details have been kept under wraps, with task force members saying only that it will include retail, housing and office space, and will try to leverage development off of the existing Downtown department stores.

Eminent domain is expected to be part of the final plan, according to three people who have seen it. The controversial government power would be used if private property owners declined to sell their buildings and land to the city in negotiated sales.

The task force was formed in November 2000 after Murphy’s own Downtown redevelopment plan fell apart. Known as Market Place at Fifth & Forbes, Murphy’s plan was criticized for its use of eminent domain, the relocation of local merchants to make way for national retailers and the leveling of as many as 62 Downtown buildings.

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