Showers West prep for police, Hopewell owner’s rep: 2 RDC projects take steps forward

At its Monday meeting, Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) took incremental steps on two of its projects.

First, the RDC ​ approved a $479,000 contract with U3 Advisors to serve as the owner’s representative for the redevelopment of the Hopewell neighborhood—which is the former site of the IU Health hospital, at 2nd and Rogers streets.

On a second item, the RDC approved a $100,000 contract with Axis Architecture for some preliminary design work on the western part of the Showers building—where city hall is located. It’s the portion of the building that is the planned future home of Bloomington’s police station and fire administration.

The design work is for the part of the Showers building that Bloomington purchased from CFC Properties in early 2023. The purchase was funded out of the proceeds from the issuance of $29.5 million of bonds, which was approved in late 2022 by the city council. The bond proceeds are also supposed to pay for the remodeling that will be required to accommodate police operations in a more than 100-year-old building.

But the RDC’s Monday resolution approved the use of $100,000 in TIF (tax increment finance) revenue to pay for the pre-design work—if it is necessary. The resolution is worded in a way that indicates it is not already decided that TIF revenue will be used: “[I]f needed in the discretion of the Bloomington Controller, Consolidated TIF funds may be expended up to an amount not to exceed One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00).”

The contract with Axis Architecture says the preliminary design work is supposed to be complete by Sept. 1, a little less than three months away.

At Monday’s RDC meeting, assistant city attorney Larry Allen said that the work to be done by Axis would include 3D mapping of the building. He described it as about 30 percent of the total design. Allen said that Axis had already “scanned” the building to create 3D models and would now start designing the interior, including potential entrances connecting city hall and the newly acquired portion of the building.

The administration is referring to the part of the Showers building that it purchased to house Bloomington’s police station and fire administration as “Showers West.”

Responding to questions from RDC members about the timeline for the final design work, Allen said, “We’re trying to be as aggressive as possible.” He continued, saying, “There’s the hoped-for timeline, and there might be the realistic timeline.” The administration’s hoped-for timeline would probably mean early fall, Allen said. He added, “A realistic timeline may be anywhere from early fall to early next year.”

Allen said there would be some back-and-forth depending on potential additional needs that get identified in the process, and the needs that the police department expresses during the process. “There’s going to have to be some allowance for time, just for the back and forth,” Allen said.

The vote by the city council to purchase  Showers West was split 5–4.

One reason that the city administration would like, if possible, for the construction work on Showers West to start before the end of the year, is to ensure that the project is underway, before Bloomington mayor John Hamilton leaves office. He did not seek reelection. As it currently stands, no other candidate besides Democratic Party primary winner Kerry Thomson appears on the Nov. 7 ballot. She’s expected to be Bloomington’s next mayor starting in 2024.

The fact of an upcoming transition in the mayor’s office got some explicit discussion at Monday’s RDC meeting—in connection with the $479,000 contract with U3 Advisors. The contract approves U3’s role as the owner’s representative for the redevelopment of the Hopewell neighborhood.

RDC member Deb Hutton noted that there is a clause in the contract that refers to current deputy mayor Mary Catherine Carmichael as a point of contact for U3 Advisors: “In the performance of U3’s work, U3 agrees to maintain such coordination with the city as may be requested and desirable, including primary coordination with deputy mayor Mary Catherine Carmichael or her designee as the city’s project manager.”

The choice of the person who serves as deputy mayor is up to the mayor. Given that after Jan. 1, Carmichael might not be the deputy mayor, Hutton wanted to know how that clause in the contract would be interpreted.

Allen told Hutton that typically that situation would be handled by giving written notice, with the new person’s name and contact information. Allen indicated that the RDC would be kept apprised of those kinds of notices.

RDC president Cindy Kinnarney scrutinized a couple of different aspects of the deal with U3.

She wanted to know how U3 is planning to bring local developers into the mix. Kinnarney said, “I’m curious about U3’s commitment to engaging local developers and local partners. Obviously, I think that’s incredibly important as we move forward on such a profound community endeavor.”

Responding to Kinnarney was U3’s Todd Stern. “I can’t think of an engagement where we’ve been involved in developer procurement, where we have not reached out intensively to local developers,” he said. Stern continued, “To me, one of the keys to success is to have a mix. It’s essential that we have the local players who know this market, who have proven experience negotiating transactions with the city and with the state.”

Stern added, “I also think it’s important, though, to look outside the municipality, to look statewide, to look regionally, in order to create as much momentum and excitement and sense of competition amongst the developer respondents as possible.”

Kinnarney also wanted to see a provision added to the agreement that would require regular updates from U3 to the RDC on the project. The motion on the RDC’s adoption of the resolution was made by Randy Cassady. Cassady’s motion included the caveat, “subject to the reporting aspect, so that the RDC is updated in regards to ongoing communication.”

At Monday’s meeting, the RDC got a reminder of sorts that the new non-profit formed by the city, which is called City of Bloomington Capital Improvement, Inc. (CBCI), would start playing a role in the Hopewell project.

The reminder came from Deb Kunce, with JS Held, which is the project manager for the Hopewell project.

Kunce described how for the last two years a team that is internal to the administration has been meeting about the Hopewell project. Kunce listed out the group as including: Jeff Underwood (city controller); Alex Crowley (director of economic and sustainable development)l; Larry Allen (assistant city attorney); John Zody (director of housing and neighborhood development aka HAND); John Hamilton (mayor); Mary Catherine Carmichael (deputy mayor); among others. That’s the group that has been “steering the day-to-day activities” for the Hopewell project, said Kunce.

Some of those responsibilities of the internal working group would be transitioning, Kunce continued. Some of them would be taken over by U3, but some of that work would also be taken over by CBCI. Kunce allowed that CBCI does not hold the contract with U3—the RDC does. Kunce also noted that it is the RDC that owns the land. That means the RDC’s involvement would be maintained, said Kunce.

2 thoughts on “Showers West prep for police, Hopewell owner’s rep: 2 RDC projects take steps forward

  1. City government stumbles from one fiasco to another. It is like a horror movie that never ends.

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