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.
Bloomington is still reserving the right to appeal its unsuccessful eminent domain action to acquire additional land to replace the 352-space parking garage that stood downtown at the corner of 4th and Walnut streets.
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.
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.
Every month starting in August, Bloomington’s plan commission followed a pattern. The commission continued to the following month’s meeting one of its agenda items—the city’s proposed site plan for a replacement garage at Fourth and Walnut streets.
Demolition of the old structure, with its 352 parking spaces, started in September and is now complete.
The short-handed plan commission voted Monday 5–0 for the continuance. That’s the minimum the nine-member commission needs for a quorum or for an affirmative vote. The site plan might be heard at the plan commission’s Dec. 9 meeting.
The reason for the repeated continuance on the site plan stems from the fact that the city does not own part of the land—the south end of the block between 4th and 3rd streets—on which the replacement garage is supposed to be built.
On Friday, the deadline set by the judge in Bloomington’s pending eminent domain case was met by both sides in the case, as both Bloomington and 222 Hats LLC filed their proposed orders by the end of the day.
Bloomington wants to buy the property at the south end of the block between 4th and 3rd streets along Walnut, so that the replacement parking structure can have a footprint that extends the length of the block. Owner Juan Carlos Carrasquel does not want to sell. The offer made, before Bloomington started the eminent domain legal proceedings, was $587,500.
Bloomington wants the court to order that “The Plaintiff, City of Bloomington, shall be and is hereby entitled by law to condemn the real estate located at 222 S. Walnut Street.”
The Bloomington city council’s insistence on the inclusion of ground floor commercial space in the proposed replacement for the 4th Street parking garage is a factor in one of the arguments a landowner is making, in an attempt to ward off the city’s attempt to take some real estate through eminent domain action.