Approved: Former Kmart site to add 340 apartments, 900 bedrooms to Bloomington’s multi-family housing inventory

If demolition and construction go according to plan, by July of 2023 the former Kmart on Bloomington’s east side will be transformed into a multi-family and student-oriented housing development.

Bloomington’s plan commission gave the project a 7–0 vote of approval at its regular Monday meeting. Monday’s hearing came after one in May that was originally supposed to be continued in June, but was delayed until this week.

The proposal from Trinitas, called The District at Latimer Square, will leave Bloomingfoods in place. But the project will give the grocery store a slightly reconfigured parking lot and sidewalk connections.

The voting tally did not add to 9, because Chris Cockerham recused himself—he is the real estate broker for Bloomingfoods. Commissioner Jillian Kinzie did not attend the meeting.

In the two-month interval between hearings, Trinitas made several design revisions, which had been foreshadowed at the plan commission’s May meeting. Elements getting a different look on Monday included the end caps of the buildings; the parking garage; the location of some utility boxes and dumpsters; and the proposed sidewalk connections to 3rd Street.

The site plan approved by the plan commission on Monday is not required to be heard by the city council, because no zoning change was involved.

But three conditions have to be met as a part of the plan commission’s approval: city of Bloomington utilities (CBU) has to sign off on the project; the drawings have to be consistent with those presented to the plan commission; and the fire department has to sign off on the changes to the right-of-way.

Ryan Call, with ELS Architecture and Urban Design, highlighted one of the basic benefits to the project, which is part of a nationwide trend: “There’s a huge opportunity to redevelop the excess retail sites into something that’s already adjacent to all the transportation and amenities in place.”

The Kmart site represents “that opportunity to build out and in,” Call said.

The site now has less than 7-percent permeable surface, which will be increased to a total of 40-percent permeable area, Call said.

On the roughly 12-acre site, which consists of a large building and a parking lot, the project will put one-and-a-half-acres of parks and gathering space, 300 new trees, a mile of sidewalks, and a half mile of bike lanes, Call said.

That’s in addition to the five residential buildings, one leasing and amenity building, and a 385-space parking structure.

The site will include another 100 surface parking spaces, and 57 parallel parking spaces, for a total of 542 parking spaces.

The question of parking drew a question at Monday’s meeting from commissioner Beth Cate. She wanted to know if the parking spaces at Bloomingfoods are being counted towards satisfying the residential parking requirement of the project.

Yes, was the answer from senior zoning planner for the city Eric Greulich—because Bloomingfoods is a part of the site plan.

The minimum parking requirement for the student-oriented housing portion of the project requires a parking space for every two bedrooms, which is a 0.5 parking-space-to-bedroom ratio.

Mark Becher, with Trinitas, said the amount of parking for Bloomingfoods will be “relatively unchanged,” adding that it’s important for a grocery store to have a surface parking lot in front of it.

About the 378-space parking garage, Becher noted that its spaces would be leased separately from the apartments.

Some of the background to the condition of approval that involves a CBU sign-off is the water service to the site. The water service will use two 8-inch main extensions, tapping into the city’s 12-inch main at Clarizz Boulevard.  Each building will need a booster pump to provide enough water pressure for fire protection.

According to information in the meeting information packet provided by Bynum Fanyo and Associates, the engineer on the project, construction start is expected in November 2021. Substantial completion is expected by July 2023.

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