Garage Dispute

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The battle over a downtown Rockford parking garage continues. We told you first how the city closed the sidewalk outside the Stewart Garage on Elm Street after concrete was falling from the structure's facade.

Thursday, the building's owners were threatening to sue the city, saying they caused the damage. The City of Rockford has been working to seize this property for more than a year with hopes of demolishing the aging structure, but the owner of the property says the city's $137,000 offer isn't reasonable.

"It has a mortgage of $440,000," said Dr. Gautum Gupta with a chuckle.

Now, city leaders are considering condemning the property to speed up the process.

"While the building may be structurally sound, there are portions inside and outside that create some real safety concerns, and that was demonstrated yesterday," said Rockford Mayor Doug Scott.

The Metro Centre uses the garage for storage. Dr. Gupta says the heavy equipment and activity is what is causing concrete chunks to fall from the structure.

"They're abusing the garage by putting things in there which should not be in the garage, a lot of heavy things which the garage is not meant for," said Dr. Gupta.

Gupta says he'll consider tearing down the garage if the city's willing to foot the bill, which could be about $200,000, but he says he has big plans for the property and will fight to hold on to it.

Dr. Gupta says he wants to develop the lot into a hotel and athletic club, but says the city has not been cooperative. A judge will hear the city's eminent domain case later this summer.