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Gary Housing Authority violated Constitution in eminent domain case

GARY, Ind. (WISH) — The Gary Housing Authority violated the Constitution when it used eminent domain to take a downtown property to build a mixed-use development, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The state’s highest court found GHA must hold a new hearing on payment for the property.

GHA had “sought to acquire all of the properties within the western 600 block of Broadway [Avenue] for the purpose of building a block long mixed-use development, inclusive of affordable housing.”

GHA initially set payment for the property at $24,000, then increased it to $75,000. An appraisal for the owner of 624 Broadway, LLC, put the value at $325,000.

The Supreme Court opinion, authored by Justice Mark Massa, found that GHA violated the property owner’s due process by failing to properly notify him of two hearings, including one to establish the value of the land. 

The housing authority published notices of the hearing but did not directly reach out to the property owner, despite having his contact information.

GHA attorneys argued they followed all state law on notification. 

The court upheld the GHA use of eminent domain to take the land.

“We cannot vacate the Housing Authority’s taking—statutorily authorized and for a public purpose—simply because insufficient notice,” Justice Massa wrote.

The building at 624 Broadway has since been demolished.