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Old Dominion's University Village project cleared another hurdle Tuesday when Norfolk Circuit Court Judge William F. Rutherford ruled that six business owners in the expansion area did not have sufficient evidence to prove that the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority could not acquire their property.

According to an Oct. 26 Virginian-Pilot story, the property owners were disputing NRHA's declaration that their buildings were in a blighted area.

NRHA's attorney, James L. Chapman IV, "argued that the NRHA designated the area blighted because of crime, trash and dilapidated buildings," according to the story.

At his annual address to classified and hourly employees Oct. 27, Old Dominion President James V. Koch said, "If you've driven through there or walked through there, you know that most of that property is, in fact, blighted. It's pretty hard to get away from that."

The judge's ruling, Koch said, is good news for the university because it allows Old Dominion to proceed in acquiring the remaining 11 properties in the area that has been designated for the Constant Convocation Center.

"What it means now is that for those 11 remaining properties, all we have to do is agree on the price," Koch said. "With some of them we hope we can do that without going to court. With others it may be necessary to go to court."

He hastened to add, however, that the university will be offering fair appraised value for properties in the area. "I want to say to you, and really have you spread the message, that we're not trying to shortchange anyone over there." Koch also noted, "If there are other appraisals that come along and say the property is worth more, we'll pay attention to those."

As reported in The Pilot story, Joseph T. Waldo, the attorney representing the property owners, said they "will continue their fight in January and February when they go to trial to negotiate the value of their buildings."

According to the article, the property owners who contested NRHA's blight designation are: Dennis and Georgia Kambitsis, owners of the former Mr. T's Tacos building; Carl H. Peters, owner of a warehouse; Samuel Page Stewart, owner of the Burger King site on Hampton Boulevard; David L. Goodman, owner of the Dunbar Security Building; and J.A.G. Associates, which owns Zero's Subs.

This article was posted on: October 28, 1999

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