4th Street parking structure site plan review pushed to October

The Bloomington plan commission’s already-started review of the city’s 4th Street parking garage site plan proposal has been given another continuance, according to the planning department’s development services manager, Jackie Scanlan.

Calendar Screen Shot 2019-08-29 at 2.21.30 AMIt’s the second continuance approved by the department under Article VIII (B) of the plan commission’s rules and procedures. The first one bumped the review from the August to the September meeting.

This time, the delay is from Sept. 9 to Oct. 7.

The plan commission considered the site plan at its July meeting. Commissioners took a 3–4 vote to continue the matter, but no commissioner made a motion to recommend approval. So the commission was left without having passed a motion. That meant it was continued by default to August.

The site plan submitted by the city is for a six-story garage with 510 parking spaces and roughly 11,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor. The footprint would extend for 4th Street to the south end of the block at 3rd Street.

The reason for the continuances is the ongoing litigation over the city’s attempt to acquire the property at the south end of the block, currently home to Juansells.com Realty Company. The owner, Juan Carlos Carrasquel, does not want to sell the building to the City.

The eminent domain legal proceedings are grinding along, and have included some extensions of time periods and a change of judge. The litigation has finally reached the point where a hearing date has been set, for Sept. 12.  But that it expected to be pushed later based on scheduling conflicts, according to the city’s legal department.

The pending eminent domain issue has already had a logistical impact, affecting the sequencing of the demolition. Signs of the demolition prep, [still] scheduled to start on Sept. 3, were apparent at Walnut and 4th Streets on Thursday morning in the form of orange lane barricades.

Cropped parking garage barriers 08.29.2019 parking garage demo - 1
Looking north along Walnut Street at the 3rd Street intersection, Thursday morning (Aug. 29, 2019) (Dave Askins/Beacon)

What makes the site plan review legally problematic is the lack of owner consent. Bloomington’s corporation counsel, Philippa Guthrie, under questioning from commissioner Brad Wisler at the July 8 meeting, conceded a legal point: “It is true that the UDO requires [consent] for petitioners who are not the owner.”

Guthrie added: “… We are now in an eminent domain action…We’ve been unable to reach an agreement. So, we can’t get his consent.”