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Group asks to buy city parcel

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
September 13, 2011
— The Janesville City Council was prepared Monday night to swap land to create public and private parking across from One Parker Place, but one of the owners said he and his partners would consider their alternatives.

Fred Fox, Terry Donaldson and Norm Weitzel own One Parker Place. They recently tore down a nearby building at 115 E. Court St. The city owns a vacant lot at 121 E. Court St., which is directly across from One Parker Place and next to the lot where the building was razed.


The men asked the council if they could buy the lot at 121 E. Court St. for $1 so they could combine it with their vacant lot at 115 E. Court Street to create 45 private parking spaces.


Fox said the lack of parking for One Parker Place stands in the way of recruiting a large company to rent space that could bring jobs to Janesville.


City Manager Eric Levitt and the council members, though, were leery about selling property the city likely would need for parking when the deck is removed from over the Rock River.


"I see the importance of the city maintaining ownership of some property for future use," President George Brunner said.


Brunner suggested swapping ownership of the two empty lots so the men would own the property across the street from One Parker Place.


Brunner said the city could build public parking on its adjacent property and the men could build private parking on their property. Brunner said the tenants of One Parker Place could use the public spots.


If a parking lot is built at 121 E. Court St., the city would have to pay back at least $30,000 in federal block grant money used to buy and demolish a building that once stood on the corner lot. The city is not allowed to build a parking lot with the federal money, Brunner said.


That makes the $1 suggestion unlikely in this time of tight budgets, Councilwoman Kathy Voskuil said.


Voskuil said the city owns a parking ramp less than two blocks away, but Fox said women leaving One Parker Place at night worry for their safety.


Voskuil also said that 45 spots won't go far toward satisfying a large company bringing in more than 100 employees. Fox said it would be a start.


Fox said he didn't think owning 18 or so private spots would solve their problem in marketing the building. He said he and his partners have spent $650,000 so far in buying property to provide parking for the building.


Yuri Rashkin wondered whether the tenants working at night could park in the county lot across the street. Fox said they approached the county about that long ago and were told no.



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