Bloomington’s unsuccessful eminent domain action to expand parking garage: $100K in total legal fees

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The site of the future replacement of the 4th Street parking garage on July 10, 2020. This view is to the northwest from the corner of 3rd and Walnut Streets. The real estate building, which Bloomington tried unsuccessfully to acquire through eminent domain, stands in the left of the frame. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

About four months ago, in the third week of March, Bloomington withdrew its appeal of a Monroe Circuit court ruling that went against the city in its effort to acquire some additional land.

The city wanted to use the real estate to expand the footprint of a replacement parking garage at 4th and Walnut streets. The city was seeking to use the principle of eminent domain to force the landowner to sell his building and land at a fair price as defined under the law.

Based on a final order filed by the judge on Thursday, Bloomington will be paying $62,500 in legal fees for Juan Carlos Carasquel, owner of the 222 S. Walnut building. [Updated July 14, 2020. In an amended filing on July 13, the amount was adjusted downward by $250 to $62,250.]

Based on Bloomington’s online financial records, the city has paid its outside counsel on the case, Bose, McKinney & Evans, a total of $39,367.50 since the litigation started.

That makes for a total of $101,868 in legal fees paid by the city for the case, which it initiated over a year ago.

Carasquel’s attorneys had asked for a couple thousand dollars more. But the hearing on the fees was cancelled, when the two sides agreed to sort out the fees amongst themselves. The judge approved the agreement, and it was filed on Thursday.

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Foundation piers are getting installed for the replacement garage at 4th Street. This shot was taken on June 10, 2020 looking southwest from the corner of 4th and Walnut Streets. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

Eric Rochford, with Cohen & Malad out of Indianapolis had originally filed documents claiming a total of $42,118.06. Local Bloomington attorney David Ferguson, with Ferguson Law, filed documents claiming $22,848.25. In round numbers that’s a total of $64,966. [Motion for fees] [Exhibit A] [Exhibit B]

The replacement garage is now being built on the same footprint as before. Work  at the site on 4th Street has been visible since the start of July.

The foundation piers have been going in for a few days.

Construction, once its fully underway, is expected to take a year.

Previous coverage of the lawsuit and the now-redesigned replacement garage, with its more than 500 spaces, is available in The Square Beacon’s archives.

One thought on “Bloomington’s unsuccessful eminent domain action to expand parking garage: $100K in total legal fees

  1. I have always hated the concept of eminent domain. I saw the potential government abuse as a young boy on our family farm. The government would come in, take a farmers land that often had been in their family for generations, just to build a road. It was defended by the government as protecting “progress” for the community. I asked the same question when I was 12 years old that I ask today at age 63: Who in the government has the right to define progress? Was it progress to destroy a family farm for a road? More importantly, is a parking garage progress when the city claims to be concerned about climate change? Is there no other use of the $100,000 in legal fees that has been spent so far? I congratulate Mr. Carasquel for standing up to the government and protecting his property from what can only be described as a government land grab.

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