Finishing touches on 4th Street parking garage—from pretty to practical

Bloomington’s new 540-space parking garage on 4th Street has been open for people to park there since Aug. 23.

Since then, elements like the payment system and solar panels have been installed.

On Wednesday, the installation of the public artwork called “Urban Fabric” resumed after a two-day pause, in order to get approval from the board of public works for a lane closure on Walnut Street.

The art consists of vast panels of multi-colored aluminum wedges that are meant to evoke a quilt.

Also this week, the two public toilets on the north end of the garage were open for use, after a delay due to a lack of parts for the doors. According to public works director Adam Wason, a late issue arose with the compatibility of the electronic locking mechanisms and the door jambs.

The restrooms will be open around the clock through the whole week, with regular monitoring during overnight hours, according to Wason.

Continue reading “Finishing touches on 4th Street parking garage—from pretty to practical”

Installations at park, parking garages part of a busy end of year for Bloomington’s public art program

Towards dusk on Tuesday, visible progress was being made on the installation of “Urban Fabric,” a piece of public art that will wrap the new 4th Street parking garage in downtown Bloomington.

The public artwork for another recently completed city parking garage, located in the Trades District just north of city hall, will get a formal dedication this Friday.

Adding to public art activity in Bloomington in recent weeks was the dedication of “North Star/Hoosier Line” on Friday two weeks ago. It was installed on the east and west walls of the restrooms, north of the splash pad across the B-Line from the pavilion.

Continue reading “Installations at park, parking garages part of a busy end of year for Bloomington’s public art program”

For now, “free” parking in Bloomington’s new 4th Street garage, due to computer chip shortage

Bloomington’s new 4th Street parking garage opened for use three weeks ago on Monday, Aug. 23.

The opening was announced in a release issued by the mayor’s office the previous week.  It means the city hit its hoped-for opening date of August 2021.

The city has sold 370 monthly permits for the garage. Hourly parking will eventually be charged at 50 cents an hour.

But for now, it’s possible for visitors to downtown Bloomington to park without paying for a space in the new 4th Street garage.

That’s not because the city has adopted a philanthropic approach to parking garages. It’s due to a worldwide supply chain problem, according to the mayor’s office. The metering of time spent in the garage, as well as the customer service portal, run on technology that requires a computer chip from China, where it’s being manufactured.

As soon as the equipment arrives and is installed, the gates will go down, and daily parkers will start getting charged, according to the mayor’s office. Continue reading “For now, “free” parking in Bloomington’s new 4th Street garage, due to computer chip shortage”

Parking garage ribbon cutting marks transition, a prelude to hoped-for development

Saturday’s ribbon cutting at Bloomington’s new 350-space parking garage in the Trades District, west and north of the city hall building on Morton Street, was a chance to mark an upcoming transition in city government.

It was also an occasion for local leaders to talk about the positive impact on development that the garage is hoped to have. The surface lot it replaces, just to the west of the city hall building, offered around 100 spaces. So the garage is netting around 250 parking spaces. Continue reading “Parking garage ribbon cutting marks transition, a prelude to hoped-for development”

A tour of Trades District parking structure: “I don’t wake up every morning wanting to build parking garages.”

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One of the two parking garages currently under construction in downtown Bloomington is close enough to completion that on Tuesday afternoon a dozen city insiders and media types got a tour.

Just north of city hall, the opening of the Trades District garage, with around 380 parking spaces, is on course for late March. But enough of the main elements are in place that it’s already unmistakable as a parking garage.

That contrasts with the replacement facility for the 4th Street deck, which is not due to come online until August of 2021. So it’s still coming out of the ground.

Of the 540 spaces to be constructed in the 4th Street replacement garage, 352 count as replacements for the spaces that were housed in the previous 4th Street structure. It was closed at the end of 2018 due to structural failure, and demolished last year.

Leading Tuesday’s tour were Bloomington’s director for economic and sustainable development, Alex Crowley, and Josh Scism, with Core Planning Strategies, the firm that’s managing both parking garage projects.

Scism focused the group’s attention on the structural elements: concrete, cabling, pumps and the like.

Crowley took the chance to review with the group the case for the city’s decision to build the garage, but hedged against any perceived enthusiasm for parking garages generally. “I don’t wake up every morning wanting to build parking garages,” Crowley said. Continue reading “A tour of Trades District parking structure: “I don’t wake up every morning wanting to build parking garages.””

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 JuanSells.com 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. Continue reading “Bloomington’s unsuccessful eminent domain action to expand parking garage: $100K in total legal fees”

Zoning board doesn’t yield to COVID-19, grants driveway variances for 4th Street parking garage; Bloomington city council cancels work session

On Thursday night in Bloomington, as the COVID-19 pandemic stalled a lot of public business, some of the People’s work was still getting done.

At the regular meeting of the city’s board of zoning appeals (BZA), a replacement garage at 4th and Walnut streets in downtown got two required variances.

The BZA’s Thursday action clears the way for construction of the project, which is hoped to start sometime around August this year, and be complete in August of 2021.

The BZA’s approval followed the project’s site plan approval by the city’s plan commission almost two weeks ago. Of the 537 spaces to be constructed in the new garage, 352 count as replacements for the spaces that were previously housed in the 4th Street structure, which was closed at the end of 2018 due to structural issues. Continue reading “Zoning board doesn’t yield to COVID-19, grants driveway variances for 4th Street parking garage; Bloomington city council cancels work session”

Bloomington plan commission OKs 4th Street replacement parking garage, target completion date now August 2021

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Rendering of the integrated art project for the 4th Street parking garage that has been designed by Project ONE Studio. The quilted grids are to be fabricated out of  painted aluminum.

By August 2021, motorists in downtown Bloomington could have 537 more parking spaces to choose from.

On Monday night, the city’s plan commission approved a design for a new garage at the same site, on the same footprint, where the old 4th Street parking garage stood, until it was demolished in late 2019. Continue reading “Bloomington plan commission OKs 4th Street replacement parking garage, target completion date now August 2021”

Revised 4th Street garage design goes to Bloomington plan commission as parking gets more scrutiny in community

After an unsuccessful attempt to use eminent domain to acquire land south of the now-demolished 4th Street parking structure, the city of Bloomington has now unveiled a design for the replacement garage. The new design is confined to the footprint of the old 352-space garage.

On Monday, March 9, the city’s plan commission will consider the city’s proposal for a new seven-story parking garage with 537 parking spaces. That’s one story taller than the previous design presented last July, which had a larger footprint. Continue reading “Revised 4th Street garage design goes to Bloomington plan commission as parking gets more scrutiny in community”

Bloomington “assessing all options” after eminent domain ruling, landowner’s legal fees a $64K question

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The view to the northwest from the corner of Walnut and 3rd Streets of the 222 S. Walnut building, which houses owner Juan Carlos Carrasquel’s real estate business. Jan. 29, 2020 (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

In her ruling on Tuesday, Monroe County circuit court judge Holly Harvey denied Bloomington’s request to have a second try at acquiring the 222 Hats property on S. Walnut Street to build a replacement parking garage.

According to a statement issued Wednesday afternoon Bloomington is “assessing all options before us and hope to move forward with a new, efficient, green public garage.”

Those options could include appealing the case in court. But an appeal would probably mean an additional year or more delay in replacing the 352 parking spaces provided by the old garage.

The garage was closed a little more than a year ago, because it was failing structurally. Demolition was completed in late 2019. The construction phase of a replacement garage is estimated to take about a year, maybe a little less.

Bloomington’s deputy mayor, Mick Renneisen, told The Square Beacon on Wednesday afternoon that the city is still keeping all legal options open. But the administration has told the architect’s team to start working on a design that’s confined to the same footprint as the old garage, he said. Renneisen put it this way: “We have to build on what we do own.”
Continue reading “Bloomington “assessing all options” after eminent domain ruling, landowner’s legal fees a $64K question”