Bloomington wants to sell about 5 acres of downtown land.
But the land won’t be sold to just anybody for any purpose. One example of a land use that explicitly won’t be in the mix: undergraduate student-oriented housing.
Instead, Bloomington is looking to make good on the investments it has already made in the land and nearby parcels, by selling to buyers who want to build something that “nurtures creativity and entrepreneurship among [the city’s] citizens and workforce, helps brand Bloomington as a lively tech sector hub, attracts private investment, employment and visitors, and provides welcoming living options for Bloomingtonians.”
The quote appears in the offering sheet for the tracts, which was approved by Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) at its Tuesday meeting. The original quote was taken from the 2013 certified technology park master plan.
The offering sheet says that mixed office/retail/residential space—if the residential units meet a professional workforce housing demand (including owner-occupied units)—will be considered. But the sheet says: “Undergraduate student housing is explicitly not of interest to the RDC for this project.”
The four tracts are north of city hall, and make up part of the 12-acre Trades District, which is a portion of the city’s larger 65-acre certified technology park
One tract is west of Rogers Street, on the south side of 11th Street.
The other three tracts are on the east side of Rogers. The biggest of the tracts east of Rogers lies on the south side of 11th Street, extending down to Maker Way, which splits the block between 10th and 11th streets.
The other two tracts east of Rogers are just north of 10th Street. One is taller than the other. The one tract is shorter, because its top piece is set aside for the construction of a technology center.
The four tracts are offered at the following prices: Tract 1 (west of Rogers) $2,550,000; Tract 2 (east of Rogers just south of 11th Street) $2,050,000; Tract 3 (east of Rogers, north of 10th) $1,020,000; Tract 4 (east of Rogers, north of 10th) $560,000.
The effort to sell the land, which was purchased from Indiana University in 2011, is now led by former Bloomington mayor John Fernandez, who was recently hired as senior vice president for innovation and strategic partnerships at The Mill.
Based on H-T reporting from a decade ago, in 2011 Bloomington’s redevelopment commission paid Indiana University $9.3 million for the 12 acres that make up the Trades District, part of the larger 65-acre certified technology park.
At Tuesday’s RDC meeting, Fernandez stressed that the land would be sold to developers who had a planned use that is consistent with the technology park’s vision. He put it like this: “We’re not just selling the land to anybody.”
Fernandez put the RDC’s approval in the context of the process that is being followed to advertise the land for sale. The offering will be published in the Herald-Times, Fernandez said, in addition to being pushed out on social media channels.
The timeline in the offering sheet calls for bids to be submitted by 3 p.m. on July 17, 2023.
The instructions to bidders state that bids will be opened an hour after the deadline, at 4 p.m. EDT on July 17, 2023. The bid opening is described in the instructions to bidders like this: “The RDC will publicly open and consider all written offers at a public meeting of the RDC.”
The 3-story 22,000-square-foot technology center that is being built just to the north of Tract 4 will be paid for in part with a roughly $3-million appropriation from the city’s general fund. The money was originally collected through the city’s CREDs (community revitalization enhancement districts) for the purpose of infrastructure investments, to promote economic development ,with revenue overseen by Bloomington’s industrial development advisory commission (BIDAC).
When the majority of the CRED money was not spent before the CRED districts expired, it was transferred under state statute into the city’s general fund.
In round numbers, the $3 million approved by the city council adds to a $3.5 million grant from the federal Economic Development Administration (EDA), and about $2 million in tax increment finance (TIF) money, which was authorized by Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC), to cover the roughly $8.5-million cost of the technology center building.