Bloomington looks finally to put commercial tenants in ground floors of city parking garages

The ground floor commercial space in the city of Bloomington’s two new public parking garages—on 4th Street and in the Trades District—could finally see some tenants, more than a year after construction was completed.

Terms for lease agreements in both parking garages appear on the agenda for Monday’s regular meeting of Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC).

Slotting into the 4th Street space will be Hoosier Networks. That’s the company formed by Paris-based Meridiam to do business in Indiana, as part of deal with the city of Bloomington to build a fiber-to-the-home network in the city.

Hoosier Networks will also be able to lease some temporary space in College Square, which is the former location of the Bunger & Robertson law firm, which the RDC purchased with an eye towards developing the parcel as part of an expanded convention center.  It’s the spot where Bloomington’s downtown fire station has landed temporarily after the June 2021 flooding damaged the fire station at 4th and Lincoln streets.

Taking the Trades District garage space will be the University of California – Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. That’s after the RDC in mid-April had approved terms of a lease with the software company Exclaimer for the Trades District garage space. The Trades District garage ground floor space for lease is still an empty box—it doesn’t look like it ever got built out for Exclaimer.

Potential lease terms: Trades District garage ground floor to UC

  • Rented space will be 4,059 sq. ft. within the Trades Garage
  • $19/ sq. ft. for rent in the first year with annual increase of 2.5%
  • $55/ sq. ft. tenant improvement allowance from the RDC
  • Lease Term would begin no later than 150 days from the date of execution
  • Tenant would perform buildout;

Potential lease terms: 4th Street garage ground floor to Hoosier Networks

  • Rented space will be 2,400 sq. ft. within the 4th Street Garage
  • Rental Rates as follows: Year 1: $33.50 per sq. ft. ; Year 2: $35.00 per sq. ft.; Year 3: $36.50 per sq. ft.; Year 4: $23.00 per sq. ft.; Year 5: $24.50 per sq. ft.
  • $45/ sq. ft. tenant improvement allowance from the RDC; Tenant is responsible
    for any additional tenant improvements
  • Tenant would perform buildout, which shall be completed within nine months
  • Tenant will have access to office space within College Square for up to nine
    months at a rate of $12.00 per sq. ft. for up to 4,400 sq. ft. of space; (Any tenancy in temporary space beyond nine months will be charged at a rate of $20.00 per sq. ft.; )

The Trades District parking garage was completed in late April 2021, which means the ground floor space has been sitting vacant for about a year and a half.

The 4th Street garage was completed in late August 2021, which means it has been vacant for a year and two months.

The decision to include ground floor space for commercial tenants in the public parking garage on 4th Street was based on the requirements of Bloomington’s unified development ordinance (UDO). For that part of the city, no less than 50 percent of the total ground floor area has to be for nonresidential use—and a parking garage can’t be counted as part of the required nonresidential use.

It was the ground-floor nonresidential requirement that in late 2019 undercut the city’s eminent domain case against the 222 Hats property at 3rd and Walnut street, which is owned by Juan Carlos Carrasquel. The city of Bloomington wanted to force Carrasquel to sell the property to the city so that the parking garage could be designed to extend the full block from 4th Street down to 3rd Street.

From the ruling: “The Court concludes that the retail use of the proposed Project, which cannot be separated from the public aspect, prohibits the taking of the 222 Hats Real Estate.”

The 50-percent nonresidential use requirement for the ground floor has also recently nixed a recent proposed condo development. In late October, Bloomington’s board of zoning appeals (BZA) turned down a request for a variance from the 50-percent requirement for a proposed condo development of the parking lot on the west side of the CVS on Kirkwood.

At the BZA meeting when the variance was denied, BZA member and plan commissioner Flavia Burrell, said she would be bringing forward the idea to the plan commission of rethinking the 50-percent nonresidential use requirement for ground floor projects.

One thought on “Bloomington looks finally to put commercial tenants in ground floors of city parking garages

  1. Maybe they will recoup part of the lost property tax revenue for a couple of the many downtown parcels that the City has bought over the years.

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