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Woman, 80, Fights City Hall and Wins

ST. LOUIS (CN) - A jury awarded a salvage yard owner $1 million after the City of St. Louis took her property away through eminent domain. Opal Henderson, 80, had owned the yard near Busch Stadium for 61 years. The city offered her $200,000.

The St. Louis Board of Alderman declared the property blighted in 2004, a necessary measure to use eminent domain. It took the property in 2008.

The aldermen wanted the property for redevelopment - bars and restaurants in the Ice House District, just blocks south of Busch Stadium.

Henderson rejected the city's initial bid of $200,000. She and the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority appealed a condemnation commissioner's appraisal of the property at $300,000, sending the issue to trial.

A St. Louis City jury decided the property was worth $1.009 million.

Henderson's attorney, Chet Pleban, had asked for $1.029 million, factoring in the value of the property and the income that Henderson earned from it.

"They've harassed her for years," Pleban told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Opal was there before the ordinances. So they couldn't move her ... not for want of trying. So the only remedy they had was to take her property."


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