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Eminent Domain Ruling Emboldens City Governments

Kare11 | June 30, 2005

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision on eminent domain is just days old and already it's being called upon to backup action already underway in the Twin Cities.

The city of Brooklyn Center is bulldozing the 'Hmong American Shopping Center' to make room for something more profitable.

The center's owners say it reminds them of the communism they left behind. But supporters say they have a better use for the land.

After 40 years in the same salon, Bernice Springer is leaving.

She's not happy about hanging up the shears and rollers, but she has to move, because her salon, and the rest of the stores in the mall, have been sold to the city by Dan Vang.

“We've worked 25 years in this country, to go up the ladder of economics.”

Dan Vang and his father-in-law bought the 70,000 square foot mall in year 2000 and say for the past two years, they've tried to work out a redevelopment plan with the city of Brooklyn Center.

Dan Vang says he didn’t sell by choice, “We were able to purchase the first Hmong American shopping center in the world, so when this was taken from us, it wasn't just from Mr. Lee, but from the community.”

The attorney for Brooklyn Center, Marc Manderscheid says, this is not a David-and-Goliath story.

“In this case in Brooklyn Center, the shopping center was blighted. The Hennepin County District Court found that it was obsolete and had a negative and blighting influence on the neighborhood.”

The city plans on leveling the mall, then taking public bids on who will develop the site, which may or may not involve Dan Vang and his father in law.

“They have the right to bid along with any other company to become the developer for the redevelopment of this shopping center,” said Manderscheid about Vang.

Vang says while that may be true, the whole process has been very unfair, “There has to be something done here. We were willing. It's our land, we knew what we had to do.”

Bernice Springer is nearing the last curl. She'll set up shop about five minutes away and just hopes, her clients stay with her.

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