On Friday afternoon, a day with partly cloudy skies and a temperature around 80 degrees, about 60 local leaders gathered at the now empty grassy lot on the south side of 2nd Street, between Rogers Street and The B-Line Trail.
They were assembled to mark the groundbreaking for the Hopewell neighborhood, which will be constructed at the site of the former IU Health hospital, where the health care provider operated its facility until December 2021.
Delivering remarks on Friday were Bloomington mayor John Hamilton, followed by Cindy Kinnarney, who is president of Bloomington’s redevelopment commission, and by Mick Renneisen, who is president of the board for the nonprofit called City of Bloomington Capital Improvements, Inc.
Hamilton led off his remarks by saying, “We are here to break ground on this once-in-a-century opportunity to create a new neighborhood in the heart of our beloved city.”
The mayor then noted the long history of the project, which dates back at least to 2018, when IU Health agreed to sell the property to the city of Bloomington for $6.5 million.
It is Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) that authorized the use of tax increment finance (TIF) funding for the project. So it is the RDC that will be the legal owner of the land, until it can be sold to a developer who will agree to follow the master master plan for the development of the site.
The master plan calls for greenway streets, and a range of housing types that could include between e 660 and 1,000 units of new housing.
In his remarks, Renneisen said the specific area where the group was standing would be the location for the Hopewell neighborhood’s highest density housing. He also stressed the fact that the master plan for the site had been developed with a lot of input from the public. “When I say master plan, I mean all of you—you participated.”
In her remarks, Kinnarney also highlighted housing. “It’s our turn to come together to address critical community needs, such as housing,” Kinnarney said. She added, “And it’s our turn to make sure our work stands the test of time, as the community members before us have.”
Friday’s groundbreaking was for infrastructure work for the Hopewell Phase I East portion of the project. The area for Phase 1 East is east of the block where the big hospital building once stood. It’s bounded by 2nd Street to the north, 1st Street to the south, The B-Line Trail to the east, and Rogers Street to the west.
In May, Bloomington’s RDC approved a $13.37 million contract with Milestone Contractors, LP for the Hopewell Phase I East infrastructure project.
Milestone will be installing utilities, constructing streets, landscaping and bicycle-pedestrian facilities.
The $13.37 million figure includes the base bid plus the alternates. The original $13.5 million base bid, from Milestone Contractors, was the only one received by the city. It was about 30 percent higher than the engineer’s estimate. That led the city in January to reject the bid, revise the project and to put it out to bids a second time.
The second time around, the city received two bids—the winning one from Milestone, and a $15.94 million bid from Crider & Crider, Inc.
In his remarks on Friday, Hamilton also noted the longer history of the land where the group was standing—by reciting the acknowledgment that is often used to start Bloomington’s public meetings:
We recognize that the city of Bloomington sits on Native land. The city as well as city administrative buildings are on the traditional homelands of the Miami, Delaware, Potawatomi, and Shawnee people and we acknowledge they are past, present, and future caretakers of this land. We also acknowledge that much of the economic progress and development in Indiana and specifically Bloomington resulted from the unpaid labor and forced servitude of people of color—specifically enslaved African labor. We acknowledge that this land remains home to and a site of gathering and healing for many indigenous and other people of color and commit to the work necessary to create and promote a more equitable and just Bloomington. We move forward knowing and acknowledging our rich, complicated, and sometimes painful past so that we can learn from it and create a true land of opportunity.
While a substantial cross-section of city departments, boards, and commissions was represented on Friday, the fact that no city councilmembers attended emerged when Hamilton was reciting standard thank yous.
As he was thanking various people in turn, and acknowledging them in the crowd, Hamilton reached the city council on his list. “Well, I also want to thank the city council for support all along the way.” Hamilton then surveyed the group, and murmured, “I’m looking around…” before moving on to the next group to be thanked.
Friday’s groundbreaking was an occasion where a historian of deputy mayors could have documented four in one place at the same time: Mick Renneisen (former); Don Griffin (former), Mary Catherine Carmichael (current, through July 28); and Larry Allen (starting July 29).
A non-exhaustive list of those who attended the groundbreaking includes: John Hamilton (Bloomington mayor); Mary Catherine Carmichael (Bloomington deputy mayor, current); Larry Allen (Bloomington deputy mayor, effective July 29, 2023); Don Griffin (Bloomington deputy mayor, former); Jen Pearl (Bloomington Economic Development Corporation, president); Josefa Madrigal (Bloomington mayor’s office, chief of staff); Karin St. John (Bloomington plan commission); Cindy Kinnarney (Bloomington RDC); Randy Cassady (Bloomington RDC); Sarah Bauerle Danzman (Bloomington RDC); Zac Huec (Bloomington Transit, grants and procurement manager); Kathy Schultz (Bloomington Transit, marketing and development manager); Shelley Strimaitis (Bloomington Transit, planning and special projects manager); Paul Ash (Bloomington, bicycle and pedestrian safety commission); Andrew Cibor (Bloomington, city engineer); Angela Van Rooy (Bloomington, communications director); Andrea de la Rosa (Bloomington, department of economic and sustainable development); Holly Warren (Bloomington, department of economic and sustainable development); Paula McDevitt (Bloomington, department of parks and recreation); Leslie Brinson (Bloomington, department of parks and recreation); Kaisa Goodman (Bloomington, former public engagement director); Mick Renneisen (City of Bloomington Capital Improvements, Inc.); John West (City of Bloomington Capital Improvements, Inc.); Doris Sims (City of Bloomington Capital Improvements, Inc.); Tina Peterson (Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County, president and CEO); Christopher Emge (Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, director of advocacy); J.T. Forbes (Indiana University Foundation, Indiana University Foundation); Shawna Gergis (IU Health Program Director, community relations and outreach); Deb Kunce (JS Held, vice president ); Geoff McKim (Monroe County, county council); Pat Martin (MPO, senior transportation planner); and Joe Davis (would-be mayoral candidate).
Photos: Hopewell groundbreaking (July 21, 2023)