Posted: 3:52 p.m. Monday, Aug. 4, 2014

Orlando drops eminent domain lawsuit against church over soccer stadium issue

ORLANDO, Fla. —

Orlando leaders announced they are dropping the eminent domain lawsuit against a Parramore church that was standing in the way of a new Major League Soccer stadium.

The Faith Deliverance Temple on West Church Street repeatedly refused the city's offer to buy its land near the site of the proposed Major League Soccer stadium.

"We are announcing today that we are dropping the eminent domain proceedings that were initiated related to Faith Deliverance Temple," Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said Monday afternoon. "If we'd continued negotiations with the church I'm not sure we would have had the stadium available for the 2016 season. Under this scenario we'll be able to break ground in the fall."

City officials had been in negotiations with the church owners for about a year. The owners said their last offer was $4 million for a property appraised at $695,000. The church turned down the offer and instead asked for $35 million.

City officials said Monday that they will shift the planned stadium slightly to the west, on the land that was the former site of the Carver Theatre Development.

"We applaud the mayor for finding an alternative solution that is a win for everyone involved," said Orlando City Soccer Club President Phil Rawlins. "The new location allows us to remain on schedule to play our matches in the new stadium, starting with the home opener in 2016. Importantly, this is also a win for the community of Parramore. "

The city purchased the land July 28 for $2 million from the Black Business Investment Fund.

BBIF failed to develop the land over the course of eight years and still owes the city $878,000.

Dyer and Orlando City Soccer Club President Phil Rawlins said the new site will work better for the $110 million stadium.

"(It) gives us a slightly bigger footprint, which means we can put more amenities into the stadium," said Rawlins.

The new stadium will now incorporate Parramore history into the stadium as a tribute to the former Carver Theatre site it will now occupy. Rawlins said jazz music will be a part of the pregame ritual.
 
"We see this as a win-win-win, for the city of Orlando, for the Parramore district and for Orlando City Soccer Club," said Rawlins.

Church owners said they were ecstatic that they will be able to keep the church as it is, when told about the decision by Channel 9's Lori Brown.

Orlando City Soccer announced it will form a committee of Parramore leaders, including District 5 Council Woman Regina Hill and Florida State Sen. Geraldine Thompson to help stadium designers incorporate elements of the community into the structure.

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