The City of Austin condemned a downtown block owned by Harry Whittington and developed it as a parking garage for the convention center. The City did this in lieu of requiring the Hilton Hotel developer to build several hundred spaces of underground parking, which it had promised in its proposal for the convention center hotel.
A jury found that the City's taking was invalid because it was not for a public purpose, but really to benefit the developer of the Hilton, and was fraudulent and in bad faith. The Austin Court of Appeals affirmed.
This was always a tough case. On the one hand, a parking garage owned and managed by the city, open to the public, and catering specifically to convention center business seems to be a "public use." Not to mention the chiller plant the City built on site. On the other hand, there was something unsavory about the City's behavior that rubbed a lot of people the wrong way (including the jurors). The City signed a deal with the Hilton developer that committed the developer to provide underground parking. Soon after that, the City decided to let the developer out of that obligation and, in order to close the parking shortage created by its own decision, chose to take someone else's (Whittington's) property. Whittington felt that he'd been screwed by the City so it could make a sweetheart deal with the Hilton developer.