Carmel files lawsuit to gain control of PNC Bank property on Main Street

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Carmel is pursuing a lawsuit to take control of a property at the northeast corner of Main Street and Rangeline Road after negotiations with the owner stalled.

The city filed a complaint for condemnation this month in the Indiana Southern District Court against Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank National Association. The case was originally filed in Hamilton Circuit Court but was moved to the federal court since PNC is located in Pennsylvania.  

The city has plans to facilitate redevelopment of the northeast corner of Main Street and Rangeline, where PNC operates and owns a bank branch at 21 N. Rangeline Road. The city launched an effort in 2016 to acquire parcels for the square block that includes the corner, and it plans to partner with a developer to build a multi-use project in a public-private partnership.

It has envisioned the redevelopment as a four-story building with a mix of apartments, condos, offices and retail with underground parking. PNC Bank would be able to relocate its branch in the new building, according to the suit.

The square block currently includes a two-story office building, offices for Nova Star Home Mortgage and a house. The bank is the only property owner that has yet to agree to sell its land to Carmel, Mayor Jim Brainard told IBJ.

Government entities, including cities, have the right to acquire private property for public use and can use the process of eminent domain to do so, but the entity is required to first make a fair offer for the land.

In March, the city offered PNC $1.52 million for the building and parking lot, which the bank did not accept.

“The city has attempted to negotiate with PNC Bank for many years in a good faith effort to purchase the PNC real estate, including obtaining independent appraisals and tendering the required offer,” the suit reads. “In addition, the city has previously discussed plans with PNC that would allow for redevelopment that included PNC owning or leasing a retail branch at a prominent position on the redeveloped site.”

A spokesperson for PNC Bank declined to comment, citing the ongoing case. In a filing with the court, PNC countered that the project would have a private developer and thus wouldn't constitute a "public" improvement project for purposes of eminent domain.

In the event that the court decides that the city is entitled to take the real estate by eminent domain, PNC has asked that it be awarded all compensation for it as entitled by law. In such cases, the court typically arranges for compensation for the property.

A pretrial conference for the case is scheduled for Oct. 22.

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