Dispositions of Community Redevelopment Property May Be Voided

16 September 2022 Tampa Bay Business Journal Publication
Author(s): Adam R. Alaee Evan M. Malloy

There are over 220 community redevelopment areas in Florida, and you may have purchased or leased valuable property in one of those areas.

However, if the government seller or lessor failed to follow certain competitive notice and proposal procedures prior to the transaction — namely, those in Florida Statutes § 163.380(3)(a) — your purchase or lease could be voided.

Likewise, if you desired or attempted to purchase or lease such property but were unaware of the opportunity or lost it to another party, you may be able to challenge the sale or lease. In other words, compliance with § 163.380(3)(a) is critically important.

The state legislature enacted Chapter 163 to, among other things, promote the redevelopment of historically blighted areas and ensure the fair and equitable disposition of property in such areas. That is precisely why § 163.380(3)(a) requires a county, city or community redevelopment agency to dispose of any property in a community redevelopment area in an open and competitive manner.

In 2008 and 2010, however, the Florida Attorney General’s Office opined that the competitive procedures applied to community redevelopment area property only where the county, city or redevelopment agency initially acquired the property (1) after the creation of the community redevelopment area and (2) for redevelopment purposes. See Op. Att’y Gen. Fla. 10-47 (2010); and Op. Att’y Gen. Fla. 08-21 (2008). Presumably, for many years thereafter, Florida counties, municipalities, and redevelopment agencies relied on these opinions.

In a recent case of first impression, though, the Second District Court of Appeal rejected the attorney general opinions, reasoning that § 163.380(3)(a) means precisely what it says: A county, municipality or redevelopment agency must follow the requisite notice and proposal procedures prior to disposing of any property in a community redevelopment area. See Riverside Heights Development LLC v. City of Tampa and Ulele Inc., 313 So. 3d 776 (Fla. 2d DCA 2020). And, in doing so, the court declared that the city of Tampa’s lease and sale of certain well-known property in the Tampa Heights Riverfront Community Redevelopment Area — transactions that occurred years earlier — were void.

The significance of the Riverside decision is clear: All Florida counties, cities, and redevelopment agencies must — and previously had to — follow § 163.380(3)(a) before disposing of community redevelopment area property regardless of when, or for what purpose, the property was acquired.

Given that the prior — and now erroneous — attorney general opinions stood for more than 12 years, it is likely — if not certain — that many other Florida counties, cities, or redevelopment agencies sold or leased property without following the necessary procedures. Such transactions therefore may be subject to challenge.

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