Bloomington OKs 1,000-bed student development south of football stadium

This rendering shows the view of The Standard from the northwest.

After getting the required rezone approval from Bloomington’s city council in mid-December, the site plan for a three-building 1,061-bed student-oriented housing project got unanimous approval on Monday night from the city’s plan commission.

Called The Standard at Bloomington, the project is located a few blocks south of Indiana University’s football stadium, and will extend from Dunn Street a couple of blocks west along 14th Street. It’s the current location of Brownstone Terrace, also a student-oriented apartment complex. Brownstone Terrace will be demolished to make way for The Standard.

Given Brownstone Terrace’s 232 bedrooms, the project will net 829 additional bedrooms for the city’s student housing supply.

Aerial view from Monroe County GIS system of the Brownstone Terrace in spring 2020.
Aerial view from Monroe County GIS system of the Brownstone Terrace in spring 2020. North is at the top.

The project is expected to start construction in July 2021 and be complete by August 2023. That’s according to the letter submitted to the plan commission by Kendall Knoke, who’s with Smith Design Group, Inc., the civil engineering firm on the project.

At their Monday meeting, the project was uncontroversial among plan commissioners. They’d seen many of the details when they’d recommended that the city council approve the rezoning, from planned unit development (PUD) to mixed-use student housing (MS).

President of the commission, Brad Wisler, told Landmark Properties representative Aaron Stange, “For a project of this size and scale, to come for site plan approval and only have two public comments—this is quite telling you’ve done something right here.”

Landmark Properties is based in Athens, Georgia.

One part of the project not previously seen by the plan commission is the now-planned inclusion of some commercial space at the northeast corner of the building, at 14th and Dunn streets.

Responding to a question about the commercial space from commissioner Jillian Kinzie, Stange said it’s there because of a request from city councilmembers. During the developer’s discussions about the rezone with the city council, some councilmembers requested consideration of a small retail component on the northeast corner of the site, Stange reported.

The answer to the city council at the time was that Landmark would consider it. After consideration, the commercial space is now a part of the written commitments associated with the project.

The four commitments are:

  1. Affordable housing. The commitment is to include affordable housing: 15 percent of bedrooms, with two-thirds at no more than 100 percent of area median income (AMI), and one third at no more than 120 percent of AMI.
  2. Green building. The commitment is obtain National Green Building Standard Silver level certification within a year of receipt of a final certificate of occupancy.
  3. Commercial Space. The commitment is to incorporate a commercial space into the project subject to approval of a landscape buffer yard variance from the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals.
  4. No Private Shuttle. The commitment is not to operate a private shuttle service from the site.

Responding to a question from commissioner Chris Cockerham, Stange pegged the square footage for the planned retail space at somewhere between 500 and 1,000 square feet.

Stange also told Cockerham that a grease interceptor and venting had been studied for the commercial space, and those items will be included when the project submits its application for permits.

One of the two public commenters mentioned by Wisler was Kay Olges, president of the board of directors for Windfall Dancers, which is located at the corner of 14th and Dunn, across the street from the planned new project.

Olges wanted to know what the impact would be of possible shadows cast by the building on solar panels that the dance nonprofit is planning to install on its roof. Olges was told she’d receive a shadow study.

But the developer’s representative who addressed the question from Olges said he didn’t think there would be a shadow impact. His assessment was based on the fact that the building at that end of the project stands just four stories tall, compared to the six stories at the other end of the site.

At Monday’s meeting, Olges also aired a concern about security. In an email sent to the plan commission she wrote, “In the past few years, vandalism has become an increasing issue at our location. After IU’s football victory over Penn State October 24th, our main sign was broken in two, which required complete replacement.”

Part of Stange’s response to the question about security involved the offer of free housing to a Bloomington police officer. “We are going to be providing a unit for a Bloomington police officer to live on our property and park their car there,” Stange said. He added, “I think that’s part of our strategy for ensuring—let’s be honest—it’s not just community crime, it’s also, we want our residents to feel safe as well.”

The other part of Landmark’s security strategy are basics like locking the doors and monitoring the site with staff, at the front desk and elsewhere, but not with security officers, Stange said.

Olges also asked about the adequacy of visitor parking. The project is planned to include 679 parking spaces in the parking garage, which is the middle of the three buildings of the project. That works out to 0.64 spaces per bedroom. Under city code, the minimum is 0.50 spaces per bedroom. 

Stange said he thinks the amount of parking is adequate.

Stange said that some percentage of the parking spaces would be programmed as visitor parking, but could not at this point say how much. 

Stange confirmed that leases for units and leases for parking spaces were be separate.

About the planned indoor basketball court that is shown in some of the site plan materials, Stange said that it’s not an amenity included in every development undertaken by the Georgia-based company, but also not the first ever.

Still, it will be Stange’s first project that includes a full-size indoor basketball court. He gave a couple of reasons: “One is: I love basketball personally. I coach a junior high team.”

Stange added, “Indiana has got a really storied basketball history. And we just felt like it was an excellent amenity and it would get a lot of use.”

Responding to a question from Wisler about the three-point arc shown in the drawing, Stange said, “Yes, it absolutely will be 100-percent accurate. And I’m looking forward to shooting some 3s from it.”