Peoples State Bank headquarters on north side of Bloomington gets OK from plan commission

The great blue herons that take wing out of Miller-Showers Park after an afternoon of fishing, and then head to other hunting grounds, swooping out over the intersection of 17th Street and College Avenue, will soon have a literal bird’s eye view of the new corporate headquarters for Peoples State Bank on that corner.

Bloomington’s plan commission gave the project unanimous approval at its regular Monday meeting.

How soon the construction is finished will depend on the the availability of supplies and materials. The construction start could come this year or might be pushed off until the spring, according to Tim Cover, with Studio 3 Design.

Peoples bought the property for $1.95 million, from Pepsi-cola General Bottlers of Indiana in August of 2021. The bank has set up a drive-thru banking facility on the southeast side of the lot.

Peoples Bank will now undertake the demolition of the Pepsi bottling plant, followed by the construction of a four-story building, totaling about 34,200 square feet, located near the corner of 17th and College on the southeast side of the site. The bank will include a 3-lane drive-thru.

Cover presented the ins and outs of the project to the commission, highlighting the contrast between the amount of impervious surface planned for the new corporate headquarters (60 percent), compared to the current configuration (100 percent).

About the project, Cover said, “This new development will not only clean up the existing site and provide an attractive new gateway building, but will also convert 40 percent of the site back to grass, landscaping and natural features.” He added that the site plan would incorporate the new city of Bloomington multi-use trail along 17th Street.

The bank’s current corporate headquarters are in Ellettsville. Cover’s memo to the plan commission describes “a key commercial corner” would be “revitalized with Peoples State Bank’s corporate flagship.”

Vehicular access to the site will change the appearance of the site. The driveway entrance off College Avenue will be eliminated. Off 17th Street, a single point of access will remain. But Woodburn Avenue, which borders the site to the west, will also provide access.

The possibility of access from both 17th Street and Woodburn Avenue would not ordinarily be allowed. But at a late June meeting of the zoning board of appeals, three variances were granted for the project, including one that allows two-way drive access on both Woodburn and 17th. Without the variance, the site could have had driveway access only on Woodburn.

Overall, Cover told plan commissioners, “So it’s a pretty dramatic change to the corner that I hope you all will enjoy.”

Plan commissioner Chris Cockerham said, “I think the project is great.” He thanked Peoples for adding to the investments on Bloomington’s north side. Among other large-scale investments on that side of town, Cockerham pointed to the city’s redevelopment of the neighboring Miller-Showers Park starting in 2001, under Bloomington mayor John Fernandez.

Compared to the downtown, Cockerham said, the north side of Bloomington has been slower to develop.

Cockerham called the Peoples Bank project a “huge step” and a “huge commitment” by the bank to bring its headquarters to that corner.

Commissioner Karin St. John echoed Cockerham, saying, “It is a huge improvement for that area.”