Eminent Domain Still a Possibility in Building Upscale Mall in West Haven

At the S&S Mini Mart on Elm Street in West Haven, there’s a sign stop “eminent domain abuse.” It’s one of the few businesses yet to settle with the developer of the Haven South upscale mall along the waterfront.

“Everybody is depending on this business,” said Sayed Ahmed, who owns the mini mart and Citgo gas station.

“Why should we sell?” Ahmed asked. “We are doing great business here after changing all the pumps, tanks – everything, you know?”

Ahmed said he is asking for $5 million and has not been satisfied with the offer the developer made.

The West Haven City Council voted on Wednesday night to allow the city to step in as a mediator in negotiations between the developer and remaining properties, including the mini mart and its neighbor, Nick’s Luncheonette.

“My preference is that they settle with the developer,” Mayor Ed O’Brien, a Democrat, said. “We don’t want it to get to eminent domain, we want to make sure the businesses and the residents are treated fairly”

The mayor said more than 50 businesses and residents have already reached a deal with the developer.

“I’ve talked to a lot of those people that are very, very happy,” Mayor O’Brien said, “very pleased with the offer they got.”

Ahmed said he will he sell his business of 17 years only if the price is right and the offer goes up with the city’s help in negotiations.

“If the negotiation is pretty much acceptable, then we’ll go for it,” he said, “but my first priority is to stay in business because we worked real hard.”

The group, Develop Don’t Destroy West Haven, argues if the city were to use eminent domain for the private redevelopment, it would set a dangerous precedent for all of the city’s property owners.

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