64-unit housing site plan near park OK’d by Bloomington plan commission

A 64-unit affordable housing project to built as a 5-story building on South Walnut Street got its site plan approved by Bloomington’s plan commission on Monday night.

Called Retreat at Switchyard, the project will include 116 total bedrooms.

The 1.5-acre site is at the east entrance of the city’s new 64-acre Switchyard Park, home of the former Night Moves building, which will be demolished.

The project does not need an additional approval by the city council, because it meets the requirements of the city’s unified development ordinance (UDO) and does not require a change to the existing mixed-use corridor zoning.

The building is allowed to exceed the standard four-story limit for the mixed-use corridor zoning district, because it meets the “Tier 2” affordable housing incentives in the UDO.

The Tier 2 standard requires at least 15 percent of the units to be income-restricted.

Of the income-restricted units, half are required to be available to households earning less than 120 percent of the area median income (AMI). The other half of income-restricted units are required to be available to households earning less than 80 percent of AMI.

The 2021 AMI for the Bloomington metro area, according to HUD, was $76,300.  For the 80-percent of AMI restriction, the maximum income for a four-person household would be $61,050.

Retreat at Switchyard will exceed the Tier 2 standard by making 48 of the 64 apartments income restricted. Ten of the units are set aside for clients of Stone Belt, which is a nonprofit nonprofit that supports people with disabilities.

The finances of the project were helped along by the city of Bloomington in at least a couple of ways. Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) sold the land to developer, RealAmerica Development, LLC for $1. The RDC had bought the property a couple of years ago for $800,000, which was the former location of the Night Moves strip club.

In December 2019, the city issued a request for information to create a mix of affordable housing, market rate housing and commercial space at the site. RealAmerica was the selected developer.

A second way the project was helped by the city was through a tax abatement approved earlier this year. The 10-year abatement schedule waives a total of $154,370 in taxes.

On Monday, the plan commission’s vote on the site plan for Retreat at Switchyard was 9–0.