Collinsville moves toward eminent domain for Main Street warehouse

News-DemocratMarch 10, 2014 

— The City Council approved steps toward eminent domain in the process of evacuating the last tenants from a Main Street warehouse in order to demolish and rehabilitate most of the block.

It's been more than two years since the city of Collinsville purchased the Main Street Apartments and adjacent Martha Manning warehouse in the 700 block of Main Street.

The plan was to relocate the residents and businesses elsewhere, demolish the old buildings and relocate the historic D.D. Collins House to the end of the block as Collins Park, the new entrance to the Main Street business district.

The apartment residents were quickly relocated. But as of October, the city was still trying to find an appropriate home for Stone Wheel, a small auto parts distributor that is now the sole tenant remaining in the Martha Manning building.

City attorney Steve Giacoletto said Stone Wheel is a subsidiary of a Chicago company, and after two years of trying to find suitable accommodations, they have been unable to come to terms with the company. Stone Wheel's long-term lease existed prior to the city's purchase of the building, Giacoletto said.

Giacoletto said the council's vote Monday was not a vote to use eminent domain, but "a precursor" to that step.

"I don't know what's holding it up... There were several points when I thought this was done, from the city's point of view," Giacoletto said. "We gave them deadlines last year, and nothing happened... We warned them this step was coming."

The vote was a statutory requirement to allow the city to negotiate with Stone Wheel to get them out of the building and into a new location, Giacoletto said.

Stone Wheel representatives were not present at the council meeting. The council's vote was unanimous, with Mayor John Miller absent.

Once Stone Wheel is out, officials said, it will take about 30 to 45 days to tear down the two buildings, including asbestos abatement.

The city's plan is to create Collins Park as an aesthetically pleasing entrance to the Main Street business district where the Martha Manning warehouse currently stands, and market the rest of the block to developers for a mixed-use development.

Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at edonald@bnd.com or 618-239-2507.

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