Nashville, Tenn. Eminent Domain

Taking Music Out of Music City
Eminent Domain Abuse in Nashville, Tenn.

In June 2008, Nashville’s redevelopment agency filed a condemnation action against a small country music business located on storied Music Row.  Along with trying to take the building, the city also took a little bit of its soul in the process.  Nashville’s Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (MDHA) wanted to give the property that houses Country International Records to a Houston-based private developer called Lionstone to put up a generic office building on Music Row that will house businesses that have nothing to do with music

The following month, IJ agreed to represent Ford, taking apart the agency’s argument that it could condemn her property.  In our answer to the MDHA’s condemnation complaint, we in part relied on new Tennessee legislation passed at the urging of our Castle Coalition in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Kelo decision.  Tennessee’s new law established greater protections for Tennessee property owners like Ford.  The MDHA was also subjected to withering criticism in the court of public opinion.  

Under intense public pressure and facing a strong legal challenge in court, MDHA, in August, dropped its eminent domain suit against Ford’s building but demanded that Ford settle by giving up virtually the entire back portion of her long, narrow parcel of property.  Ford rejected this demand, but came up with an alternative proposal:  She would exchange a portion of the back of her property for more accessible land owned by Lionstone on the east side of her building.  After weeks of intense negotiations between the developer, Ford, IJ and our local counsel, Lionstone agreed to the proposal.  The agreement is solely a swap of land; no money was exchanged.  In addition to getting better land for her business, Ford also received about 1,500 more square feet of land.

The agreement demonstrates what can happen when private parties sit down to negotiate without involving the government.  MDHA did not participate in the negotiations between Ford and Lionstone.

Ford is elated with the agreement.  As she said from the beginning of this controversy, her battle was never about money.  It was about protecting her rights and keeping her family’s legacy on Music Row.  Now Ford will have a better and more accessible parking area for her clients’ cars, trucks and buses when they visit Country International.



Essential Background


Backgrounder: Taking Music Out of Music City: Nashville Abuses Eminent Domain To Take Small Country Music Business For an Office Building

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Latest Release: Victory for Music Row Entrepreneur Joy Ford In Nashville Eminent Domain Dispute (October 1, 2008)

Legal Briefs and Decisions

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Launch Release: Eminent Domain Abuse Could Take Music Out of Music City: Small Country Music Producer Fights Back (June 19, 2008)


Case Timeline

Filed Lawsuit:


June 20, 2008

Court Filed:


Circuit Court for Davidson Country



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IJ Represents homeowners and answers condemnation action. (July 21, 2008)


Additional Releases

Maps, Charts and Facts

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Op-eds, News Articles and Links

Article: Victory for Music Row Entrepreneur Joy Ford in Nashville Eminent Domain Dispute; Liberty & Law (December 2008)

Article: Fighting Eminent Domain Abuse in Music City; Liberty & Law (October 2008)

Article: Battle against eminent-domain abuse now centers in Nashville, Clarksville, Tennessean, (July 21, 2008)

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