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”

Objection filed to Bloomington’s request to try again in effort to take 222 Hats building for parking garage

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Last Friday, attorneys for Juan Carlos Carrasquel, owner of the JuanSells.com building, filed an objection to Bloomington’s effort to have another try at acquiring the building from Carrasquel against the landowner’s wishes. Continue reading “Objection filed to Bloomington’s request to try again in effort to take 222 Hats building for parking garage”

Analysis: After lower court ruling against Bloomington, when does 4th Street parking garage get rebuilt?

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Looking south on Dec. 25, 2019, from 4th Street across the empty lot where the city’s 352-space parking garage previously stood. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

Christmas morning dawned bright over the now empty lot at 4th and Walnut streets where a parking garage once stood. It offered 352 spaces for people to park their cars, then go to work, shop, or take care of errands in the downtown area.

The demolition started in earnest in late September and was done by early November.

After last Friday’s court ruling, the now smoothed-over dirt lot will probably remain empty for at least a few more months.

Likely to be completed ahead of the 4th Street parking structure replacement is a new 379-space city parking garage for the Trades District. In a press release issued on Dec. 24 the city announced that preparations for construction would start this Friday. It’s scheduled to be completed about a year from now.

For the 4th Street structure, the city of Bloomington is still sorting out its options. A Monroe County circuit court judge ruled on Friday in favor of the property owner in the city’s eminent domain lawsuit. Continue reading “Analysis: After lower court ruling against Bloomington, when does 4th Street parking garage get rebuilt?”

Bloomington plan commission punts parking garage site plan to December

Bloomington’s plan commission voted at its regular meeting on Monday night to put off until December its consideration of the city’s proposed replacement parking garage at 4th and Walnut Streets

The site plan appeared on the agenda but was not indicated as continued, as it had been from August to September,  from September to October, and from October to November.

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.

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. Continue reading “Bloomington plan commission punts parking garage site plan to December”