How UNT could exercise eminent domain for properties along Avenue C

How UNT could exercise eminent domain for properties along Avenue C

How UNT could exercise eminent domain for properties along Avenue C
May 04
16:40 2018

Lining Avenue C and heading south toward Interstate 35E are a string of businesses on each side of the street — including New York Sub Hub, Campus Bookstore and Dollar General — but in the coming years it could all become a part of the growing UNT campus.

According to UNT’s 2013 Master Plan, the university intends to use the property along this stretch of Avenue C to expand and specifically to create a grand entrance to the university.

However, the university does not yet own all of the required land for the intended expansions. The university can offer these businesses a sum of money to purchase their land and compensate them for relocating, but the businesses can refuse.

“We were first approached, along with many businesses down Avenue C, about three and a half years ago,” Hunter Christiansen, owner of New York Sub Hub, said in an email. “I have spoken to multiple business owners in the exact same situation as us. None of us want to sell. We have all thrived where we are located for a number of years and, if it were up to us, we would choose not to sell unless it was under our terms.”

According to Title 8, chapter 251 of the Texas Local Government Code, “when the governing body of a municipality considers it necessary, the municipality may exercise the right of eminent domain for a public use to acquire public or private property, whether located inside or outside the municipality.”

Additionally, Chapter 11 of the UNT System Regents Rules states “the Board has the exclusive authority to exercise the power of eminent domain to acquire real property for the System.”

The last time the UNT System Board of Regents authorized the use of eminent domain was in August 2017, when the board authorized the chancellor or his designee to acquire the properties at the entrance to the university along North Texas Boulevard and I-35E, where there is an IHOP and land where a McDonald’s restaurant was located, according to UNT’s Director of Integrated Communications Julie Payne.

Payne said the university remains in ongoing negotiations with the property owners.

Christiansen said he has looked into his options to keep his business.

“We spoke with lawyers after receiving UNT’s original letter,” Christiansen said. “From what we gathered, if UNT used eminent domain on our family business of 39 years, then we have zero power or influence to let us stay there.”

Christiansen said that based on the 2013 Master Plan, his business would be eligible to be seized using eminent domain in about 20 years.

“We have a perfect location with UNT and their students while still convenient enough for everyone else that lives in Denton,” Christiansen said. “To think that after all these years in business that we can just be pushed out by a university after all our hard work really doesn’t seem right.”

Brent Erskin, who owns the Campus Bookstore, also received a letter from the university expressing interest in his property.

“At this point there’s been no money offered, besides their initial [letter],” Erskin said. “I’m not opposed to it. I’m not going to keep [it] just because the university wants it. In fact, I’d rather see it go to the university to see it continue to thrive.”

Erskin also owns the Voertman’s bookstore property on Hickory Street.

UNT President Neal Smatresk clarified what the master plan exemplifies in an email.

“Our university continues to look for innovative ways to meet the educational needs of our students and future students, and that means ensuring we have adequate, top-quality teaching and research space to fulfill our mission,” Smatresk said. “The university’s master plan is a future-looking document that shows how we might develop into an even stronger institution to better serve our community while meeting the needs of Texas in serving an ever-growing student population.”

Featured Image: New York Sub Hub is a restaurant located on Avenue C near UNT’s campus. Jake King/DRC

About Author

Sean Riedel

Sean Riedel

Sean Riedel is currently the News Editor at the North Texas Daily, and previously served as a staff writer from June 2017 to May 2018.

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3 Comments

  1. EminentDomainisTheft
    EminentDomainisTheft May 08, 08:16

    How is it necessary to force somebody out of their privately owned land to build a grand entrance?

    Reply to this comment
  2. mark
    mark May 21, 17:00

    Jerry Jones used eminent domain to evict Arlington TX homeowners / Jerry got the Arlington city council to support him and they sent letters “properties are owned by individuals who are either unwilling to sell or are demanding an unreasonable price for their homes or lots

    Reply to this comment
  3. Alumnus 92
    Alumnus 92 May 22, 08:26

    Better question, why does a university have the ability to exercise eminent domain to begin with? That is just wrong.

    Reply to this comment

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