So Long, Centerpoint
by Brandi Makuski City- Times Editor
In a move at least one resident considers “unforgiveable”, the Historic Preservation/ Design Review Commission supplied the final vote before the city can tear down the center portion of the mall.
“We (the city) had a plan,” said local columnist Kathy Dugan, referring to conceptual renderings published last year.
“I don’t know what happened to that plan, but to not listen to the people, and for the CDA to not even refer to that earlier plan in its presentation tonight, I think is unforgiveable,” she said.
But Alderman & Finance Committee Chair Logan Beveridge insisted public opinion was taken into account, but unexpected issues arose since public listening sessions last spring.
“To say the public was ignored, that is totally false,” said Beveridge, addressing the HPDRC Wednesday night.
Beveridge also addressed some public comments advising the commission to postpone their vote until further study and discussion could take place.
“Waiting, in this case, comes with a cost,” he said. “The longer (the mall) stands, the higher the cost, and that’s $6k- $8k a month.”
CDA boss Michael Ostrowski brought enlarged photos of a pre-mall downtown circa “sometime in the 1970s” to help the commission and public envision what the downtown area could look like again.
Ostrowski also supplied a Power Point presentation outlining the lack of historical significance to the mall building, obstructed views and poor access.
Reed Rocheleau of Whiting, known for his colorful commentary during public comment sessions, accused the commission of not realizing the weight of their vote.
“If this commission is legitimate, you should be here all night going through all of this,” said Rocheleau.
“I mean, c’mon- you guys only asked two questions.”
Commission member Kathy Kruthoff admitted she was “irate” over the mall razing at first, but after careful consideration, she says convinced the idea was the lesser of two evils.
“I’m still very upset we have this structure that’s physically sound, but one thing that comes up again and again is the ‘p’ word: parking,” she said.
Kruthoff, a former alderwoman of the mall district, said new construction and business likely scoffs at locating to the downtown area because of parking access.
“There’s the illusion of not having enough parking,” she said.
The final vote was unanimous, with commission member Tim Siebert taking several seconds before finally agreeing.
Demolition is expected to begin by mid- July.