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Construction of Gordie Howe International Bridge displaces longstanding Detroit businesses

Barbara Fornasiero, EAFocus Communications; May 03, 2018

Law firm representing 14 property owners seeks fair compensation on their behalf


Birmingham, Mich.---May 3, 2018 – Jerome P. Pesick, managing shareholder at  Steinhardt Pesick & Cohen, P.C., (SPC) a Michigan-based law firm specializing in eminent domain and condemnation, land use, commercial property tax appeals and commercial real estate litigation, is a supporter of  expanding the region’s international corridor with the construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge (GHIB). He just doesn’t want his clients to have to pay the price for progress. Together, Pesick and fellow SPC shareholder, H. Adam Cohen, represent 14 commercial property owners in Southwest Detroit forced to relocate as a result of the new bridge. 
 
“Under laws of eminent domain, the government, in this case the State of Michigan, has the right to take private land for infrastructure improvements such as a bridge, but the law also requires that property owners be made whole,” Pesick said. “A big challenge these companies face is that Detroit’s burgeoning commercial and industrial real estate market is making it difficult to affordably relocate in the city.”  
 
Cohen adds that it’s not only price, but decreased land inventory. 
 
“One of our GHIB clients currently owns and operates a 100,000 square foot warehouse.   Their space needs have pretty much locked them out of relocating within Detroit; they are likely going to end up in Highland Park,” Cohen said. “This company and other clients we represent regarding the Gordie Howe International Bridge tend to be long-time Detroit taxpayers and champions who have been in the city for decades. For companies who have stuck with Detroit in its leanest years, it’s tough to consider moving away just as the city’s renaissance gains traction and national attention.”  
 
Among other SPC clients forced out of their properties due to bridge construction are a truck repair business, a truck driving school, a towing and salvage yard, two gas stations, and a commercial kitchen supplier.
 
“Gas stations are virtually impossible to relocate and the majority of other businesses we represent near the bridge have unique space needs; they are not off the rack commercial buildings,” Pesick said. “That’s a factor the state needs to consider in determining the fair value of these businesses and the relocation costs, where applicable. We haven’t seen that yet.” 
 
Cohen notes the condemnation process is sophisticated and highly detailed, with various timelines and deadlines for filing claims, pleadings and appraisal reports, and that’s why impacted companies need legal representation.
 
“Companies who want to receive a fair price from the state need to be in it for the long haul,” Cohen said.  “Sometimes a property owner’s resolve is the most important component of the case, and our firm shares that resolve.”
 
Pesick and Cohen have successfully represented numerous clients in Southeast Michigan’s high profile condemnation projects over the last several decades, including Poletown, Detroit Waterfront Casino and Reclamation Project, Comerica Park and Ford Field, I-696, M-59 (Hall Road), M-5 (Haggerty Connector), Northwestern Connector, Van Dyke Highway, Detroit Metropolitan Airport Expansion, Wayne State University Welcome Center, Wayne County Pinnacle AeroPark, Ypsilanti Water Street Redevelopment, and Eastern Michigan University Business School, along with many other condemnation projects.  
 
Pesick and Cohen represented property owners in the largest eminent domain verdict in Michigan history, rendering $25 million in a case that involved a 6.3-acre parcel on the Detroit River with an original government offer of $13.7 million.  The firm also regularly represents commercial clients in major property tax appeal cases.