NATIONAL CITY, Calif. --  A small boxing gym that serves as a community center for area youth is battling the city for survival.

The city is currently in a legal battle to forcibly buy commercial property along National City Boulevard even if the landowner is not interested in selling. It's using a government power called eminent domain to overcome landowner objections.

"National City Boulevard used to be a thriving, downtown area," said Mayor Ron Morrison. "But it's obviously blighted now."

The court proceedings coming to an end, and if the court allows the city to follow its original plan, the city would designate a wide swath of the downtown area as blighted, thereby opening the door for a future eminent domain case.

"The formula used is incorrect," said Salvador Rivera, a spokesman for the Community Youth Athletic Center. "The judge will recognize it and tell the city to go back and do it right."

The CYAC is taking the lead in the court battle to block National City from being able to use their eminent domain powers.

If the city is allowed to use eminent domain, the property owners would be paid market value for their properties.

Morrison said redeveloping the land and creating high-end luxury condominiums would generate much needed revenue for the city and potentially attract other businesses to come to National City.

"The city can come in and take our property for the 'betterment' of the community," Rivera said. "We may not generate a lot of tax revenue, but we do create a lot of goodwill and a lot of positive things here in National City."

The center allows area young people to use the gym for free. It also runs a number of after-school programs.

"If it wasn't for the center, a lot of these kids would be roaming the streets getting into trouble," Rivera said.

Morrison said two common misconceptions are that the city is singling out the boxing gym and that the eminent domain rights are a new tool being applied for by the city.

"We already had the eminent domain rights. We weren't using them," Morrison said.

Morrison said because of the way law is drawn up, the zone the city is attempting to designate as blighted even includes the newly constructed police station and even City Hall.

"Last time I heard, I'm still going to keep my office," Morrison said.

Morrison said just because the city applies for the future rights to use eminent domain, it does not mean the city will use them. He said that the developer has reiterated his desire to keep the center and simply build around it.