Jury rules Tower's convention center property worth $30M

Latest valuation busts MCC's land acquisition budget

Late Friday, a jury found that Metro undervalued a key convention center parcel during the Music City Center land acquisition phase and owes a downtown real estate power player more than twice what was paid.

A circuit court jury ruled that the value of a former parking lot owned by Tower Investments is $30.3 million. The Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency, charged with acquiring land for the Music City Center, offered $14.8 million, just $100,000 more than Tower paid for the land in 2007.

With the jury's determination, the $57 million land acquisition budget for the massive $585 million convention center is busted, exceeding the planned amount by more than $12 million — with two eminent domain cases are still pending.

MDHA spokesperson Julie Oaks says the authority is taking time to "explore its options." MDHA has 30 days to appeal the ruling.

"This is certainly not the outcome we felt the jury would reach," she said. "We were very surprised at the ruling."

Convention Center Authority spokeswoman Holly McCall said that, while the ruling does put the land-acquisition and legal fee lines over budget, it does not exceed the total planned cost of the MCC. But if the most recent value determination stands, it will make the budget very tight.

McCall said the Convention Center Authority will spend time reviewing the budget and determining whether an appeal is warranted.

The determination by the jury comes after an earlier ruling by a so-called "jury of view" — a panel of real estate experts — valued the property at $16.1 million, sparking an appeal by Tower and Friday's ruling, made by a lay jury.