Nick Chop Commercial Appraisals

Commercial real estate valuation throughout North Florida.

Florida School for the Deaf & Blind – Eminent Domain

Saint Augustine School for Deaf and BlindClick photo for map location

Governor Rick Scott, Florida has signed a bill that allows St. Augustine school – The Florida School for the Deaf and Blind the power of eminent domain. This will allow expansion at the relatively small campus, which opened in 1884 on only 5 acres. However, residents near the campus fought this bill and an agreement was made to limit this power for condemning St. Augustine properties for ten years. Unsure if FSDB will simply wait a decade to expand or if they will look outside St. Augustine for satellite campuses.

It is located along the east side of US Hwy 1 (San Marco Avenue) at 207 San Marco Avenue, St. Augustine, Florida.  There’s not a lot of options to grow at the current location.  To the west is road frontage and to the east is the Intracoastal Waterway.  Both north and south are residential neighborhoods and along road frontage some commercial real estate to north and south, including a hotel.  It is a historical area with heavy tourist traffic.  It has never seemed the ideal place for a school with potential needs for expansion.

 

Comments

  1. Jim Spiker says:

    Very interesting that an organization such as this appears to be able to garner the same type of right to absorb property as a much larger organization such as Florida State University. Over the years FSU has seemed to ooze out and over what used to be its perimeter, gobbling up what ever land or property it felt was necessary to grow.

    • That’s true Jim Florida Universities often expand into their surrounding areas. Certainly FSU would have expanded even more if their football stadium was not reconstructed with school offices and classrooms (School of Hospitality is located here). What’s unique is Florida School for The Deaf & The Blind is only through 12th grade. It would be hard to justify any other pre-university public school this authority. I would think the cost of another similar school with the facilities already in place may be cost prohibitive.

  2. The power to take private property for a “public use” has historically allowed for wide discretion in what constitutes a public use – the St. Augustine school is just such an example. This school is located in an older section of the City that may have been ripe for redevelopment in the form of an expansion of the school and the taking of homes or alternately moving the campus to a vacant site suitable for a modern school facility. When the school files its first eminent domain takings case it will be an interesting argument for “necessity.”

    • Grant, thanks for the comment. Again, Florida State has been acquiring properties for years. When I was there, they were acquiring several properties along College Avenue. This seems similar. At what point is it worth the effort of displacing families that more than likely don’t want to move? The initial battle already has brought a ton of unwanted attention to the school. You brought up the suggestion for a new vacant site for a modern facility. Suppose the answer lies in what costs more? Condemning land for expansion plus construction costs – or a new site, plus development costs less selling off existing property. Seems simple doesn’t it?

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