City of Orlando drops eminent domain lawsuit against church, moves soccer stadium site

City had been offering church $4 million for property

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - The city of Orlando on Monday announced that it's dropping an eminent domain lawsuit against a church and moving the proposed site of a downtown soccer stadium.

[PHOTOS:  Orlando City renderings | VOTE:  Should city use eminent domain?]

The proposed stadium site, near West Church Street and Parramore Avenue, will move one block to the west, city officials said.

Orlando City Soccer, which will play its inaugural Major League Soccer season in the Citrus Bowl next year, will play in the new stadium starting in 2016.

The city of Orlando was trying to obtain land from Faith Deliverance Temple through eminent domain after failing to settle with church leaders.  After months of negotiations, the city was willing to offer $4 million, while the church asked for $30 million.

"They adamently stated they didn't want to relocate, so we knew we were in for a longer battle than we had anticipated," said Mayor Buddy Dyer.

"All we wanted to do is stay," said Jonathan Williams, son of the church's founders.  "We prayed about it and God has honored our wishes."

The move will force the city to spend approximately $4 million to fill and re-route the retention pond on the new site and to move Fire Station 2 to another location, Dyer said.

Orlando City Soccer President Phil Rawlins released a statement on the new location, saying "We applaud the Mayor for finding an alternative solution that is a win for everyone involved. The new location allows us to remain on schedule to play our matches in the new stadium starting with the home opener in 2016.  Our fans will benefit from added amenities created by the new location such as more entertainment areas prior to and after the matches."

Rawlins also said the soccer organization is working with its future neighbors to become part of the community.

He said Orlando City Soccer is starting a community youth soccer team to be comprised exclusively with Parramore children.

He also said the design of the new stadium will feature historic depictions of Parramore, although he couldn't elaborate on what those depictions would be.

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