By LOU WILIN
Marathon Petroleum Corp. won City Planning Commission approval Thursday to build a five-level, 800-space parking garage on the southeast corner of Sandusky Street and Beech Avenue this spring.
The garage is part of Marathon’s planned $80 million expansion of its downtown Findlay complex.
Construction of the parking garage could mean less traffic chaos on East Sandusky Street. A parking lot at the site has eight driveways on East Sandusky between Beech Avenue and East Street. When the parking garage is built, it will have one driveway on Beech Avenue, and one on East Street.
“If there is a backup of people leaving (the garage), they are going to be backed up on Marathon’s property, and waiting to get onto the public streets, rather than everyone getting onto the public streets and waiting,” said Matt Cordonnier, director of the Hancock Regional Planning Commission.
“Yes, there will be increased traffic but this is a much more controlled situation, and people waiting to get access to Sandusky or the other streets will actually be queued up on Marathon’s property rather than on the city of Findlay’s streets,” Cordonnier said.
To accommodate additional traffic, East Street just south of Sandusky Street will be widened by about 18 feet. A left-turn lane onto Sandusky will be installed for northbound traffic on East Street, and a right-side drive-in lane to the parking garage will help southbound East Street traffic.
Beech Avenue, which Marathon is asking the city to vacate from Sandusky to Lincoln streets, will be widened to two lanes plus an extra right-turn lane onto Sandusky Street for those driving north on Beech.
The East Street improvements will be paid for either by state or Marathon money, Service-Safety Director Paul Schmelzer said. Marathon will pay for the Beech Avenue improvements.
The planning commission recommended City Council approve Marathon’s request to vacate Beech Avenue from Sandusky to Lincoln streets.
The commission also recommended council approve Marathon’s request to vacate East Hardin Street between Main and East streets, where the Marathon Petroleum entrance is located; and a north-south alley between East Hardin and East Lincoln streets.
The alley serves the rear of the former Elks and RCM Architects buildings, at 601 S. Main St. and 613 S. Main St., respectively, and the Marathon parking lot at the corner of East Lincoln and South Main streets. Marathon owns all the property along the alley.
Marathon will raze the Elks and RCM buildings.
All of the changes are part of Marathon Petroleum’s plan to spend $80 million in the next three years to expand its complex.
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