RCU Independence, Inc. and Sentry, Inc. own and operate two successful, full-service car wash facilities called Pro Car Wash East and Pro Car Wash West. The two businesses are located across the street from one another on Rochester Road in Troy, Mich.
The City of Troy was moving forward with plans to expand Rochester Road, a major thoroughfare in arguably the busiest stretch of the city. As a result of the expansion, many businesses were confronted with partial takings, meaning that a portion of their property was being condemned for the project. In this case, the car washes were losing valuable frontage. After appraising the land in question, the City of Troy made a combined good faith written offer for both properties to the tune of $153,000. Following consultation with attorneys Alan Ackerman and Darius Dynkowski of Ackerman, Ackerman & Dynkowski, the defendants did not accept the initial offer.
While the city truly believed this offer was bona fide, the officials simply didn’t understand the elements that go in to a successful car wash operation. The significant frontage maintained by the majority of car washes is no accident—the space is used for what is called “stacking”. Stacking is space that allows for cars to dry after being washed. Without the space, the car wash line would have to frequently shut down, decreasing the number of cars washed from 150 per hour to just 90 per hour. In addition to this obvious blow to revenue, customers would be inclined to take business elsewhere to avoid the time consuming lineup.