Private business owners in Denton are under siege from the taxpayer-funded University of North Texas.

Last month, UNT’s Board of Regents voted to acquire, through eminent domain, a handful of privately owned properties along Avenue C so they can build additions to the university.

Among the targeted properties is a local family business, New York Sub Hub, which has been serving residents and UNT students for 40 years.

For Hunter Christiansen, owner of the sandwich eatery founded by his father, this isn’t the first time he’s heard about UNT’s interest in his property. About five years ago, UNT sent letters to Sub Hub and the other businesses along Avenue C expressing interest in buying their properties, even including copies of the university’s master plan for the area.

However, neither Christiansen nor his neighbor’s business, Naranja Café, were interested.

Five years later, Christiansen hears—not from UNT itself, but second-hand—that the university has voted to take his property with eminent domain power. Since the university’s decision, Christiansen still has not heard from them.

“I haven’t received a phone call, [a] person coming in, mail … nothing,” Christiansen told Texas Scorecard. “We’re kind of in the dark.”

Since news of the vote broke, sales at his restaurant have increased, and he’s seen nothing but support from both UNT students and even faculty. Christiansen said he’s keeping quiet for now while seeking legal counsel for the situation.

Robert Montoya

Born in Houston, Robert Montoya is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard. He believes transparency is the obligation of government.

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