Realtor holds up Prentis project

Published 9:51 pm Monday, December 15, 2008

Suffolk will condemn a portion of four properties on West Constance Road in January if efforts to negotiate with the property owner fail.

City Council voted 7-0 at its Dec. 3 meeting to authorize condemnation of the properties, owned by Jackson Real Estate, to acquire small portions of the back yards of 507, 509, 511 and 513 W. Constance Road. The land will be used for right-of-way and temporary construction access for the Prentis Parkway road project, which will provide an easier way to get from downtown Suffolk to the Route 58 bypass.

Grace Mason, who lives in one of the houses, said she had spoken with some of the surveyors, who knocked on her door to let her know why they were in her backyard. She has lived at the property for more than 40 years.

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The renters will not have to move, and ownership of some of the property will revert back to Jackson Real Estate after the project is completed, said city spokeswoman Debbie George. However, city officials hope they don’t have to resort to such drastic measures.

“We are optimistic we can come to a resolution without having to condemn the property,” George wrote in response to e-mailed questions. “We are continuing to work with the property owner to negotiate a deal.”

Jackson Real Estate did not return repeated calls for comment.

The project, which already is fully funded, cannot be authorized for advertisement unless all necessary property has been acquired. With city officials hoping the project will be completed within a year, quick action is needed, they said.

On two of the four properties, a temporary construction easement is all that is needed, George said. The space will be used for staging of equipment to build a retaining wall. That property will revert back to Jackson Real Estate after the wall is built.

For the other two properties, a very small amount near the rear property line is needed permanently for right-of-way. The total appraised value of all properties is less than $6,000, George said.

The city hopes to award the project in February or March and to begin construction in the spring.

“With this last hurdle cleared, we are excited to begin construction,” George said.