Greenberg Traurig Wins Eminent Domain Matter on Issue of First Impression

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James D. Masterman and James P. Ponsetto of global law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP won an eminent domain matter on an issue of first impression before the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) of Massachusetts. The decision in Cobble Hill Center LLC v. Somerville Redevelopment Authority (SRA) will likely impact the power of eminent domain for other cities and towns.

James D. Masterman and James P. Ponsetto of global law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP won an eminent domain matter on an issue of first impression before the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) of Massachusetts. The decision in Cobble Hill Center LLC v. Somerville Redevelopment Authority (SRA) will likely impact the power of eminent domain for other cities and towns.

The SRA took 3.99 acres of land located in Somerville, MA by eminent domain as a “demonstration project” under G. L. c. 121B, § 46(f), which allows redevelopment authorities like the SRA “to develop, test and report methods and techniques and carry out demonstrations for the prevention and elimination of slums and urban blight.” The issue of first impression addressed by the SJC on appeal was whether the broad eminent domain powers granted to redevelopment authorities by G. L. c. 121B, § 11 (d), include demonstration projects under § 46 (f). The SJC concluded that they do.

The SJC further defined “demonstration” in accordance with its plain meaning and general use “as requiring the test or development of a different, new, or improved means or methods to eliminate blight.” It further concluded (1) that the SRA’s demonstration project plan at issue -- designed to “serve as a model, innovative approach to community development that combines a public use [a new public safety facility] successfully integrated with private development” and public transit to eliminate blight – satisfies this definition for the purposes of § 46 (f) and (2) that takings satisfying the requirements of § 46 (f) are constitutional.

Masterman is a shareholder and trial lawyer with Greenberg Traurig’s Real Estate Litigation Practice. He has a broad range of experience in eminent domain and real estate valuation litigation, including tax proceedings and lease arbitrations, and in the litigation of land use and property rights issues. His representation of commercial, industrial, and residential property owners and developers requires his appearance in U.S. District Court, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and every state and administrative court of Massachusetts and throughout New England. His advice is sought by multi-property clients on a national basis on virtually all aspects of eminent domain, and by developers seeking public assistance with land assemblage for large-scale, public- private partnership projects.

Ponsetto is of counsel and a trial attorney with Greenberg Traurig’s Real Estate Litigation Practice. He has broad experience involving complex business and bankruptcy-related litigation and has served as counsel for corporations and individuals in federal and state courts, before arbitration panels, and in connection with mediation proceedings. He litigates various types of civil disputes, including breach of contract claims, securities claims, class action suits, consumer protection claims, intellectual property matters, lender liability claims (including Truth-in-Lending disputes and claims arising in connection with residential foreclosures), construction disputes, employment disputes (management side), tax disputes, title insurance disputes and related matters.

About Greenberg Traurig’s Boston Real Estate Group: Greenberg Traurig's Boston Real Estate Group advises clients in connection with acquisition, financing, development, leasing, operation and disposition of real estate. Clients include a mixture of regional, national, and international companies. Lawyers in the group have broad experience and knowledge in skills related to complex land use and environmental issues, office, apartment, and retail transactions, and eminent domain disputes, including litigation regarding fair market value, right to take disputes, urban redevelopment issues, and relocation. The Boston team is part of the firm’s highly regarded, award-winning national practice. In 2018, 2017, 2013, and 2010, Greenberg Traurig’s Real Estate Practice received the Chambers USA Award for Excellence.

About Greenberg Traurig: Greenberg Traurig, LLP (GT) has approximately 2,200 attorneys in 40 locations in the United States, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. GT has been recognized for its philanthropic giving, diversity, and innovation, and is consistently among the largest firms in the U.S. on the Law360 400 and among the Top 20 on the Am Law Global 100. The firm is net carbon neutral with respect to its office energy usage and Mansfield Rule 3.0 Certified. Web: http://www.gtlaw.com

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Lourdes Brezo Martinez
@GT_Law
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