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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Kennedy case finds closure

    The UA has agreed to pay the Kennedy family $243,000 for their home on East Sixth Street, ending a bitter property dispute that has lasted nearly a year.

    The home, which has been in the family of William and Barbara Kennedy for the past 89 years, resides directly in the way of three new student residence halls the university plans to build by August 2010.

    The transaction is scheduled to close by May 1, according to a university press release.

    “”My understanding is that all parties are pleased,”” said UA President Robert Shelton. “”The Kennedys haven’t called to thank me or anything, and I haven’t spoken to them, but a satisfactory resolution was made.””

    The UA purchased future rights to the property, 835-837 E. Sixth St., in 1996 for $57,000 on the condition that William Kennedy, then in his mid-60s, would be

    entitled to a life estate, giving him possession and control of the property until his death.

    By last summer, however, the increased need for student housing caused the UA to move to acquire the residence, prompting negotiations that involved the Arizona Board of Regents.

    During the board’s January meetings, the UA capped its offer at $100,000. The Kennedys, along with son Steven, attended the meetings to ask the university to reconsider acquiring the property.

    “”(William) Kennedy appeared at the regents meeting and made a plea that we not acquire his property,”” said Thomas Thompson, UA special assistant to the senior vice president. “”The (Arizona) Board of Regents gave the university authorization to acquire it but requested the university grant him a life estate if he wished, and he did.””

    The university opted to not honor the estate and push ahead on construction, however.

    “”If the negotiation is not successful, then the university will have to acquire it through eminent domain, which will have to be authorized by the Arizona Board of Regents, or we’ll have to build around it,”” Thompson said in January. “”I hope we won’t need to do that.””

    Eminent domain is the government’s right to acquire any private property if needed for public use. The government must take the request to court and state the amount it believes the specific piece of property is worth.

    If granted, the residents will be paid the price, and the government will take ownership of the property. If the owner disagrees with the amount, he or she has the right to have a jury determine the worth of the property, Thompson said.

    The UA did not invoke eminent domain and instead continued negotiation to buy out William Kennedy’s life estate.

    William and Barbara Kennedy declined to comment after the meeting, as they were involved in negotiations. Steven Kennedy said at the time that he was disappointed, and his parents were overwhelmed.

    Although the Kennedys’ home is valued at $306,000, the Kennedys were only asking for $250,000, Steven Kennedy said then.

    “”Every time we’ve sat down with the UA it’s been the same: $100K or get out,”” he said. “”We thought we made a reasonable offer to the university. My parents were never properly compensated 13 years ago mostly because they didn’t have the money to fight it.

    “”The idea here isn’t to get wealthy but ensure security. They have to be able to leave and not be in a homeless shelter, and that’s what this is about.””

    Calls to the Kennedys were not returned yesterday and no one answered the door at the property yesterday afternoon.

    “”I think the regents will be pleased to know that it has been settled to the Kennedys’ satisfaction,”” said Anne Barton, spokeswoman for the Arizona Board of Regents. “”(The Kennedys) recognized that land is an issue and they also recognized the need for more housing, so they saw it as a difficult situation and I think that they will be pleased that it was settled this way.””

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