Appraising 9/11: ‘Sacred’ Value and Heritage in Neoliberal Times
52 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2013 Last revised: 15 May 2015
Date Written: January 28, 2013
On September 11, 2001, United Airlines Flight 93 — one of the four airplanes hijacked that day — crashed into a vacant parcel of land in rural Pennsylvania, killing all on board. For many, including family members of those killed in the attack and the Park Service that now manages the national memorial at the site, the former strip mine was transformed into ‘sacred’ ground. Unable to settle on a price with the landowner, in 2009 the government took the property through eminent domain. Focusing on the ongoing effort in United States of America v. 275.81 Acres of Land to determine the amount of compensation due the owner under the Fifth Amendment, this article tells the story of this piece of property. It argues that even if the attack increased the monetary value of the site fifty-fold as the landowner’s stigma appraiser contends, the government should not have to pay that enhanced amount. The Supreme Court has repeatedly stated that just compensation is grounded in equity. Unlike other windfalls, there are equitable reasons why this increase should not accrue to the landowner.
Keywords: eminent domain, just compensation, equity, sacred, 9/11, value theory, United Airlines Flight 93
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