Despite the hardships, some analysts, at least in theory, believe in eminent domain.
"It serves an economic development purpose that often goes unnoticed," said Rebecca Lee, a partner at the Boston-based law firm, Edwards Wildman, and whose clients include real estate developers.
"For example, in Boston, eminent domain established clear title to land parcels left over from highway and railroad projects, and allowed for developing affordable housing," said Lee, who once worked for Boston and New York City redevelopment authorities.
"Eminent domain doesn't always have to be a negative," said Jennifer Polovetsky, referring to her client, Karp Associates. " Even with the problems, there was a positive outcome in the company staying in the state instead of moving elsewhere."
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There's no shortage of eminent domain cases. Landndowners in Nebraska and Kansas are going to court to fight efforts by Canadian firm TransCanada to take over property it wants in the U.S. to build the as-yet-unapproved Keystone Pipeline. Businesses in an industrial section of New York City, Willets Point, are fighting to prevent losing the property for a proposed shopping mall.
And several cities and towns have looked into using eminent domain, to take over failing mortgages and keep homeowners from foreclosures. Perhaps ironically, the federal government, along with mortgage lenders, is fighting those efforts.
There have been some successful attempts, through grass-roots organizations, to limit or stop eminent domain actions on the state and local levels. However, for James Dupree, the fight at this point is over money. He wants around $2.2 million for his property and workshop, which he says is the fair value. The city has so far offered $640,000.
"I've got a court date in about a month, and I'm not looking forward to it," said Dupree. "What I want at this point is for the city to pay for destroying my business."
—By CNBC's Mark Koba.