Bloomington’s current police station on 3rd Street is now officially up for sale—for a minimum of $3.2 million.
Bids for the property can be made starting on Oct. 13, through Dec. 12.
Approving the notice for sale at its Tuesday night meeting was Bloomington’s board of public works.
Deputy mayor Larry Allen was on hand at Tuesday’s meeting. He confirmed that any eventual actual sale of the property would require the approval of Bloomington’s city council.
It’s not a surprise that outgoing Bloomington mayor John Hamilton wants to sell the police station. There are two related reasons for putting the building on the market.
First, the 3rd Street building will no longer be needed as a police station after the police department moves into the renovated space that the city has purchased in Showers West—the western portion of the historic city hall building that was once a furniture factory.
Second, the city needs the proceeds from the sale of the building to help finance the Showers West project.
The city’s initial estimates in late 2022 for funding the purchase and renovation of Showers West relied on about $3 million from the sale of the current police station. The early funding plan also included $5 million from funds derived from the now defunct CRED (Community Revitalization Enhancement District) district.
But during on-the-fly political horse-trading at the Jan. 25, 2023 city council meeting when the purchase of the building was approved, Hamilton committed to not using any money that had been derived from the CRED.
At Tuesday’s meeting, board member Kyla Cox Deckard picked up on a phrase, “with extended departure date,” which was included in the agenda item title: “Notice of Offering Real Estate for Sale; Bloomington Police Department Property with Extended Departure Date” That’s a reference to the fact that the purchaser would in any case need to wait until the police department has moved out of the building to take over the building.
The administration of outgoing Bloomington mayor John Hamilton is currently planning to have the Showers West renovation construction contracts out for bids in November of this year, with construction to start in 2024.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Allen clarified a note that was included in the board’s meeting information packet as part of a memo from Allen to the board. The note states, “The BPW [board of public works] may recommend acceptance of an offer received at any time during the sale period.” Allen said that the process that’s being followed under state law is different from a construction bid process, when all the bids are kept sealed until the deadline, then opened only once the deadline has passed.
The police station parcel is zoned as Mixed-Use Downtown Edges inside the Downtown Character Overlay. The gross building area is 20,820 square feet.
According to the city’s online financial records, on July 21 of this year, Bloomington used $4,000 in tax increment finance (TIF) funds to pay First Appraisal Group, Inc. for an appraisal of the police station property,
TIF funds are under control of Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC). That raises the possibility that the RDC could be a potential buyer of the police station. Under state law, an RDC can pay more for a property than the average of two fair market appraisals.
What was the First Appraisal Group’s estimate of the property’s value? Under state law, records of property appraisals made by an RDC are not subject to Indiana’s Access to Public Records Act. The law on the way that RDCs acquire property states: “Appraisals made under this section are for the information of the commission and are not open for public inspection.”
On Aug. 28, at a press briefing about the proposed 2024 city budget, The B Square asked Bloomington mayor John Hamilton about the possibility that the RDC would be purchasing the police station. He replied, “I don’t expect the RDC to buy it, frankly.”