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Redefining 'blighted'

December 04, 2010

City Hall's love affair with billionaire Americana at Brand developer Rick Caruso may or may not be justified, but whatever the relationship, when a third party's involved, we should take a step back.

When Caruso this week gained, perhaps unsurprisingly, a glowing endorsement to expand his mega-mall to include two adjacent properties — one of them an up-and-running 55-room hotel — the council also set into motion a timeline that could eventually lead to eminent domain proceedings to force the property owners into submission.

Inherent in all of this is the notion that these two properties are blighted. While the argument could possibly be extended to one of the properties — a vacant building — to fold the Golden Key Hotel under a definition more often associated with structures that attract crime, deplete surrounding property values, etc., doesn't seem right.

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Standing alone, the hotel would certainly not be under any threat, but it appears the shadow of Caruso and his Americana looms large. If the Golden Key Hotel continues to hold out against Americana's overtures, as it has done for years, city officials should be careful not to allow "blighted" to mean "we don't like you as much as Caruso."

That's a slippery slope that could have far-reaching, negative implications for all non-Caruso properties surrounding the Americana.

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