Lease to housing nonprofit for apartments, daycare on former water tower site OK’d by Bloomington

Just east of the Crestmont neighborhood, on Bloomington’s north side, a new two-story building with three income-restricted apartments on the upper floor, and a licensed daycare facility on the ground floor, could soon start construction.

It’s the location of the old water tower at the corner of 14th and Monroe streets.

Clearing the way for that project was the approval on Tuesday night by Bloomington’s board of public works of a 99-year zero-cost lease. The board of public works is the owner of the property. Summit Hill Development Corporation is the future tenant that will have the project built.

Summit Hill is the nonprofit that was formed by the Bloomington Housing Authority in connection with its conversions under HUD’s rental demonstration assistance (RAD) program. Summit Hill has an ownership share of the former BHA properties, after the RAD conversion.

The address of the parcel that will be leased is 1020 N. Monroe St.

Under the terms of the agreement, Summit Hill cannot use the property for any other purpose than what is described in the lease—a two-story mixed-use building, with income-restricted residential rental housing units on the second floor and a licensed children’s day care facility on the first floor.

The only questions from the three-member board of public works at their Tuesday meeting were about non-deal-breaking issues. They asked about details of the proposal—like the anticipated construction start date, and whether a potential daycare provider had already been identified for the bottom floor of the building.

It was assistant city attorney Chris Wheeler who presented the lease to the board. Wheeler said that Nate Ferreira, who is director of real estate development for Summit Hill, was not able to attend the meeting that night, but he could get answers to board member questions from Ferreria.

The land in question is zoned R3, which is a basic residential designation that would not ordinarily allow multi-family or commercial uses. Responding to a question from The B Square, Wheeler indicated that Summit Hill had obtained a zoning variance in April of 2020.

The board of zoning appeals meeting minutes from April 23, 2020  indicate that the variance from the single-family use was granted, because of the small size of the property, combined with the small number of units and small bedroom count limits. That would limit the impact of the multi-family use, according to the meeting minutes.

For the commercial use variance, the Monroe Street property was found to have a “peculiar condition,” namely that it had a history of nonresidential uses—it was previously the site of a city of Bloomington utilities water tower. Another factor considered by the BZA was the location of the property right next to the higher density, multi-family Crestmont neighborhood.

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