Legal wrangling on eminent domain for 4th Street parking garage continues as Bloomington disputes landowner’s objections on grounds of funding, design

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A view from the northwest corner of the  4th Street parking structure site on Jan. 22, 2020. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

On Tuesday, Bloomington filed its latest brief with the Monroe County circuit court in its attempt to use eminent domain to acquire the 222 S. Walnut building that houses Juan Carlos Carrasquel’s real estate business. Continue reading “Legal wrangling on eminent domain for 4th Street parking garage continues as Bloomington disputes landowner’s objections on grounds of funding, design”

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”

Bloomington still wants to take 222 Hats building, asks court for permission to file new action with different parking garage design

On December 20 last year, a Monroe County circuit court judge ruled that Bloomington could not use eminent domain to take the JuanSells.com building (222 Hats) in order to build a replacement garage on a larger footprint. The building is just south of the site where the 352-space 4th Street parking garage once stood.

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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)

Now, according to a request filed Dec. 30 and posted by the circuit court on Jan. 2, Bloomington wants to amend its eminent domain action to factor in the key point of judge Holly Harvey’s ruling.

The ruling hinged on the fact that the proposed design of the replacement garage would include non-residential commercial space on its ground floor, disqualifying it from the public purpose that such a taking is supposed to serve.

Harvey found that “the retail use of the proposed Project, which cannot be separated from the public aspect, prohibits the taking of the 222 Hats Real Estate.”

What Bloomington is doing is not appealing Harvey’s ruling. Instead, the city is asking to amend its filing on the taking of the property. The amended filing would propose a parking structure design without the ground-floor retail component, on which its first effort foundered. Continue reading “Bloomington still wants to take 222 Hats building, asks court for permission to file new action with different parking garage design”

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?”

Judge says Bloomington cannot take JuanSells.com property to build a parking garage with ground-floor retail

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The view to the northwest at the corner of Walnut and 3rd Streets around 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 20, 2019, shortly after the court’s ruling came in the eminent domain lawsuit, subject of which was the JuanSells.com building. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

In her ruling issued on Dec. 20, Holly Harvey, a judge in the Monroe Circuit Court, has found that the city of Bloomington cannot acquire the JuanSells.com property at 222 S. Walnut through eminent domain. Continue reading “Judge says Bloomington cannot take JuanSells.com property to build a parking garage with ground-floor retail”

4th Street parking garage may be off plan commission agenda for 3 months

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The JuanSells.com building at 222 S. Walnut next to the empty lot where the 4th Street parking garage stood, as it appeared on Dec. 2, 2019. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

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.

Sometimes the continuances were done administratively. But in November, commissioners took a unanimous vote on the continuance.

On Monday, at December’s regular meeting, the pattern was interrupted. The city withdrew the petition. Continue reading “4th Street parking garage may be off plan commission agenda for 3 months”

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”

Final papers filed in 4th Street parking garage eminent domain case, wait on ruling begins

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On Saturday (Oct. 26) morning, heavy rain in Bloomington left a puddle in the north lane of 3rd Street at the corner of Walnut and 3rd. In the foreground is the JuanSells.com building that’s the target of Bloomington’s eminent domain action. In the background is the partially demolished 4th Street parking garage. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

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.”

Juan Carlos Carrasquel, owner of the property where he operates JuanSells.com, wants the court to order that “The Objections to Plaintiff’s [Bloomington’s] Complaint for Appropriation of Real Estate, filed by Defendant, 222 Hats, LLC, are SUSTAINED, and Plaintiff’s [Bloomington’s] Complaint is hereby DISMISSED.” Continue reading “Final papers filed in 4th Street parking garage eminent domain case, wait on ruling begins”

4th Street parking lawsuit: Landowner files response, both sides now face Friday deadline for proposed ruling

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The 4th Street parking garage is on its way to complete demolition. This photo was taken Monday, Oct. 21. Whether the 222 S. Walnut building that houses JuanSells.com eventually joins the pile of rubble will be up to  the court after proposed orders are filed by the two sides by this Friday, Oct. 25. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

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.

A response brief from attorneys for landowner Juan Carlos Carrasquel was filed by last Friday, the deadline set by the judge after oral arguments were heard on Oct. 7.

The central legal argument in the case is whether the inclusion of ground-floor commercial space disqualifies the parking garage project as a public use.

The Oct. 18 brief reprises arguments made at the Oct. 7 hearing, but brings into clearer focus how the city council’s insistence on the commercial space fits into those arguments.

The landowner was given until Friday to file a response to a memorandum the city had filed before the Oct. 7 hearing. The next milestone is the case will be this Friday, Oct. 25, when both sides are due to submit their proposed orders to the court. Continue reading “4th Street parking lawsuit: Landowner files response, both sides now face Friday deadline for proposed ruling”

Arguments heard in court on Bloomington’s attempt to take land to replace 4th Street parking garage

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Looking north on Walnut Street at the intersection of 3rd Street on Oct. 6, 2019. The gray building with the purple sign in the left of the frame is the JuanSells.com building that Bloomington is trying to acquire through eminent domain action. The partially demolished building to its north is the 4th Street parking garage. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

Around two hours worth of arguments and testimony were heard Monday morning at a show cause hearing about Bloomington’s eminent domain action on the JuanSells.com property. It’s just south of the now already partially demolished 4th Street parking garage.

Bloomington wants the owner, Juan Carlos Carrasquel, to sell his building so that the footprint of a planned replacement parking garage can extend the full block from 4th Street down to 3rd Street. Drawn out during Monday morning’s testimony was the city’s offer to  Carrasquel of $587,500 for the building. He purchased the building for $500,000 in spring of 2018.

The central legal issue in the case is whether the planned ground-floor retail space in the garage disqualifies it from the public purpose that a taking through eminent domain requires.

No bench ruling was made by judge Holly Harvey when the hearing concluded in Monroe’s circuit court at the Charlotte Zietlow Justice Center in downtown Bloomington.

Harvey did set a couple of deadlines. The first one is Oct. 18, for Carrasquel’s attorneys to file a reply to the memo filed last Friday by the city’s legal team. The deadline for the two sides to file a proposed set of findings and an order is Oct. 25.

Those deadlines mean a ruling might not come before Nov. 4, when the city’s plan commission is next scheduled to consider the proposed site plan for the replacement garage. The plan commission’s agenda for Monday, Oct. 7 shows the site plan as continued until Nov. 4. If there’s not a ruling by then, in the city’s favor, consideration of the site plan can be expected to be continued another month.

The site plan, which was initially heard by the city planning commission at its July 8 meeting, includes a six-story structure, with 511 parking spaces and roughly 11,800 square feet of non-garage space on the ground floor. Continue reading “Arguments heard in court on Bloomington’s attempt to take land to replace 4th Street parking garage”