Harrisburg landowners outraged at eminent domain compensation


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Former landowners are up in arms over eminent domain issues amid construction of the new federal courthouse.

Fred Jackson says his family didn’t receive fair market value during land seizures for the Northern Gateway Project, the project to widen North Seventh Street and ease traffic to the future courthouse and State Archives Building.

Jackson says his family endured a stressful ordeal that has lasted more than 20 years. He says he has documentation from two decades and has conducted research that shows the Department of General Services oversaw a coordinated effort to lowball his family while paying other property owners fair market value.

He said one property owner received nearly $300,000 for 1,800 square feet of land, while he was offered $3,600 for three times that amount of property in the same area.

Jackson believes his research shows that 10 entities — including a developer, two construction companies, and a real estate appraiser and his own real estate attorney — were involved. 

“How many years have they been taking advantage of people?” Jackson said. “How many people have they taken advantage of?”

Ron Davis says he also was taken advantage of during the eminent domain process involving the courthouse. 

“When the state stepped in, things took an unexpected turn,” Davis said. “They were the rudest and most ignorant people to deal with.”  

Davis says after his neighborhood was rezoned for commercial real estate, his North Sixth Street property he ran as a three-unit apartment home was still appraised as a single-family residence. He was offered about a fourth of the value of a commercial property.  

“My wife and I continue to be stressed out,” Davis said. “If they would have given us a fair market value in the beginning, we would not be in this situation.”

Davis questions the methods of how his property was appraised. “Why is one group of people allowed to make a huge profit and I couldn’t?” he said.

Davis looks forward to his day in court. Jackson, meanwhile, says it will take close to $100 million to make him whole after an alleged 20 years of bullying and corruption that impacted his family.

“In my opinion, we have 10 entities who worked together to harm my family,” Jackson said. “That is worth $5 million for each year of pain and suffering.”

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