Jury rules for Redner against DOT
By SHERRI DAY
Published August 10, 2005
TAMPA - Adult entertainment titan Joe Redner balked when the state transportation officials offered him $3.4-million for three Rocky Point businesses.
The property was worth at least twice that, Redner and his attorneys argued.
A jury recently agreed, awarding him nearly $7-million in an eminent domain ruling against the state.
Redner sued the Florida Department of Transportation in Hillsborough County Circuit Court last month, arguing that the agency had offered him too little money for his adult businesses on the Courtney Campbell Parkway.
In 2001, the state offered Redner $3.4-million for Scarlett's, a topless cabaret; O'Hara's, a bar and BJ's restaurant. But Redner and his attorneys maintained that his property and potential earnings were worth much more, particularly given the scarcity of available land for adult businesses.
Transportation officials need the land to make way for the Tampa Airport Interchange Project, which will attempt to improve gridlock on State Road 60 from Interstate 275 to the Courtney Campbell Parkway. So far, the agency has spent $31-million to acquire 24 properties along the roadway, transportation officials said. The $202-million project is scheduled to begin Monday. The jury, which was made up of 11 women and one man, sided unanimously with Redner at the end of the two-week trial on July 29.
"I was ecstatic because we had a verdict in the Tanga Lounge, which was right next door, where we took a loss," Redner said Tuesday, referring to a separate property that the state acquired by eminent domain. The businesses in question closed in 2003.
The July verdict "is indicative of how the people feel about well-run adult businesses that don't do any harm to society or the neighborhood around them," Redner added.
State transportation officials maintain that their offer was fair.
"We're a little disappointed, but you never can tell which way a jury is going to go," DOT spokeswoman Kris Carson said.
DOT lawyers filed a motion for a new trial Tuesday. Carson called the action "procedural."
"We have to keep our options open," she said.
Redner's attorneys, Jon Tileston and Brent Simon, initially said that a fair price for the property would be $9-million. But they later told the jury that figure was a bit speculative and decreased the asking price to $8.3-million.
"It's very difficult to get sites where you can conduct an adult use from because of zoning restrictions," Tileston said. "From our standpoint, the rarity of the adult use would require that the property be paid a premium for having an adult use."
The attorneys said the case turned in their favor when jurors were presented with the 2004 sales price for Thee Dollhouse, a strip club that sold for about $3-million. That price, Tileston said, set a precedent for adult business sales. Redner's combined acreage and structural square footage was substantially larger than the Dollhouse property, Tileston said.
Lawyers for the state countered that Thee Dollhouse's sales price proved that their offer was reasonable. They also sought to persuade jurors that Redner's businesses violated city zoning laws.
The jury said the DOT should pay $2,274,344 for the BJ's parcel and $4,558,688 for the old Scarlett's and O'Hara's properties.
Sherri Day can be reached at 813 226-3405 or firstname.lastname@example.org
[Last modified August 10, 2005, 00:36:13]
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