The boarded up historic Showers administration building in the Trades District, north of city hall, will be getting at least a partial rehab by its new owner, Eurton Properties.
The conveyance agreement, which calls for Eurton to pay $400,000 for the property, was approved by Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) at its regular Monday evening meeting.
The admin building stands at the corner of Morton and 10th Streets.
Bloomington’s director of economic and sustainable development, Alex Crowley, told RDC members that the deal with Eurton mostly mimics the features of previous deal that was struck, but eventually fell through. The purchase price on that deal was also $400,000.
The deal that eventually fizzled was with a company called Fine Tune, which describes itself as a “a niche expense management company.” Fine Tune opted out of the deal early this year.
On Monday, Eurton president Shawn Eurton attended the RDC meeting in person to answer questions from RDC members. Eurton said he is now a 25-percent investor in the Kiln Collective, the group that agreed to purchase the old Showers furniture company kiln and just recently finalized the deal.
The kiln is another historic Showers Brothers Furniture Company building that still stands in the Trades District.
Crowley described the Showers admin building like this: “It is a beautiful building that has been the bane of my existence for four years.” It has been a struggle to attract private investment in the historic building, Crowley said, because it needs a lot of work, and will take a lot of money to bring it up to speed.
The building has been sitting empty for a long time, Crowley said, so people have broken in and smashed things inside. It needs a fair amount of work just to get it to a point where a potential tenant could look at it and imagine what it might be like to occupy the building, he said.
Eurton’s approach to rehabbing the admin building will be somewhat different from the plan that previous potential owners had taken.
Instead of completing a rehab of the building and then hoping to find a tenant or occupying the building himself, the idea is that Eurton will do enough work to get the interior to the point where it can be staged for potential tenants. The completion of the renovation will be based on the needs of the future tenant.
As Eurton put it, after 60 to 90 days of work, the goal is to have the building in “showable condition” on the interior. That means refinishing the floors, and exposing the beams, making sure there’s not broken glass everywhere, no carpet peeling, rotted floors, drop ceilings, or electrical work everywhere. About the need to clean it up to make it presentable, Eurton said, “Because I have a passion for historical buildings, I can look past that, but most people can’t.”
Even on the incremental approach that he plans to take, Eurton said it will mean an initial investment of about $1.5 million.
The $400,000 price drew remote public commentary via the Zoom platform from local attorney Michael Carmin, who called it “giving away the farm.” That characterization was based on Carmin’s calculation of the relevant parcels having an assessed value of about $620,000, which means the purchase price is just two-thirds of the assessed value—a number that has historically been around 20-30 percent less than fair market value, Carmin said.
Carmin also pointed to the fact that under the terms of the conveyance agreement, if it came to a scenario where the RDC buys the building back from Eurton, it would be based on a fair market appraisal, not the assessed value. “You sell it at less than fair market value, and you buy it back at fair market value—that just defies logic, for me,” Carmin said.
Eurton responded to Carmin’s remarks with calculations for the price per acre he’ll be paying for the lots where the Showers administration building is not located—$1.35 million per acre. Eurton concluded, “So in my opinion, you’re not giving this away. It’s a very, very fair offer.”
Crowley added that the value of the building is the price that someone is willing to pay. He put it like this: “When you have a buyer, and that buyer has a price that they’re willing to pay, that’s the value of the building.”
Eurton’s connection to the Kiln Collective fits into the future of the Showers admin building.
Investors in the Kiln Collective are very involved with The Mill, which is a space for co-working entrepreneurship that the RDC built out, and is now operated by a non-profit. Eurton said that investors in the Kiln Collective and the community at The Mill are “very aware” that there’s going to be about 18,000 square feet in the Showers administration building that will be available for tech office or professional office space.
On Monday, Crowley told the RDC that the closing of the deal on the kiln building marked the first private investment in the Trades District. That’s Bloomington’s certified technology park, which includes the now vacant parcel that’s south of Upland Brewing on 11th Street.
Crowley also gave the RDC a heads up that at their next meeting he’d be asking for approval of an additional staff position, who would report to The Mill to help market the Trades District.