By Terri Hardy
A showdown between the city and landowner Moe Mohanna over the future of his key properties on Sacramento’s K Street will be postponed until Dec. 18 at his request, in order to allow for hours of testimony.
The Sacramento City Council was poised to vote today on taking Mohanna’s eight parcels through eminent domain, after a deal to revitalize the 700 and 800 blocks of K Street in downtown Sacramento unraveled.
On Monday, Mohanna’s attorney in a letter urged Mayor Heather Fargo to postpone the vote a week because of tonight’s full agenda, which includes approval of the environmental impact report for redevelopment of the downtown railyard. Mohanna and his team asked that the council set aside five hours for the eminent domain testimony and vote.
“We do not wish to rush our presentation, as we might inadvertently omit something that is legally required,” said attorney Myron Moskovitz. “And we prefer not to address our concerns to members who are yawning, distracted and preoccupied with thoughts of going home to sleep.”
Leslie Fritzsche, the city’s downtown development manager, said Fargo “is going to honor the request.”
The council vote is the latest wrinkle in the city’s push to transform blighted K Street into a thriving retail and housing destination. The eminent domain decision – seen as a last resort for the city – is politically sensitive, mixing concerns about property rights with the desire for economically recharging K Street.
For years, the city has pushed for Mohanna to rehabilitate his properties, and in 2006, Mohanna and his property partnership agreed to a complicated land swap. Under the plan, Mohanna’s team would develop the 800 block of K Street with condos and retail.
Another development group, led by Joe Zeiden, owner of the Z Gallerie furniture retail chain, would revamp historic buildings on the 700 block and bring in retailers.
Because some of the buildings Mohanna was to receive were demolished after a fire, the landowner argued the property value was lowered and the exchange was unfair.
Recent negotiations between the city and Mohanna seeking to resolve differences haven’t resulted in a deal.
City leaders said they were prepared to continue to meet and, at the same time, push forward with plans to take control of the land.
Mohanna’s group has vowed to fight the eminent domain challenge.
As the land swap fell apart, Mohanna lost his developer, John Saca. However, Moskovitz said Mohanna has regrouped and wants to rehab the 700 block instead.
Moskovitz said Mohanna has retained a consultant that brings in retail clients, has a builder, Howard S. Wright construction, and has secured a line of credit from the Bank of the West.
“The city wants to take the land on the 700 block so Zeiden can put in retail – but Moe is proposing the exact same thing,” Moskovitz said. “Eminent domain law doesn’t allow government to take property away from A to give to B.”
John Dangberg, the assistant city manager in charge of economic development, said the city is hoping for a settlement. However, he said any proposal has to make sense.
“We’ve been getting proposals from Mohanna for seven years, but nothing has worked out,” Dangberg said
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