What is spot for new ballpark worth?
Sides offer different views as condemnation hearing begins
MINNEAPOLIS -- Land Partners II, the group which owned the eight acres of land where the Twins new ballpark is to be built, will receive at least $25 million for the condemned land regardless of what Hennepin County will pay for it.On Tuesday, an executive from Hines Interests, a Texas-based developer, testified during a condemnation hearing for the land that last year Hines agreed to pay the group $25 million plus an additional 22.5 percent of anything the county agrees to pay for the land above that amount. Hines would collect the remainder of the profit from the land sale, John McDermott, a Hines vice president, testified Tuesday at the hearing. Daniel Rosen, attorney for the land owners, said in his opening statement Monday that the land is worth $65.38 million. If that is indeed true, Hines would receive $31 million from the deal while Land Partners would be paid $34 million. The feeling is that the final settlement will be less than $65 million. An appraiser hired by Hennepin County determined that the 20-year-old parking lot currently is worth $17.23 million. And the county's attorneys say the parking lot would be valued at about $8.98 million by tax assessors. Hines is a company that currently has $13 billion in property holdings and a résumé that includes developing the Pillsbury Center and Wells Fargo Center in downtown Minneapolis. The decision by the company to make the deal with Land Partners II was a highly calculated risk, McDermott said. When Hines signed the letter of intent for the deal in 2005, it was believed that the odds against the Legislature approving a new ballpark were "80 percent." When the negotiations between Hennepin County and the legislators continued, without consulting the land owners, McDermott said he was "shocked" and "bowled over" by the way the situation progressed. But on June 19, 2006, one day after the stadium was approved, the two signed a 48-page development and purchase agreement that ensured the $25 million payment. Wednesday will be a day off for the two sides before the hearing resumes Thursday.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.