Beacon, Inc. is looking to use a $7 million grant it received through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to build a new facility with 20 supportive housing apartments, across 3rd Street from Rose Hill Cemetery.
But in order to pursue that project—which is also planned to include a day shelter, an overnight shelter, and five staff apartments—Beacon will need approval from Bloomington’s board of zoning appeals (BZA). That approval is subject to the conditional use criteria that are laid out in the city’s unified development ordinance (UDO).
Beacon’s proposal is the second item on the BZA’s Thursday agenda. The BZA meeting, which will be held in city council chambers at city hall, starts at 5:30 p.m.
The land where the nonprofit wants to build the project is currently zoned for mixed-use medium scale (MM). In the MM zoning district, a use called “supportive housing” is allowed, but only as a conditional use. The conditional use process entails submitting the proposal to the BZA, which is supposed to evaluate the proposal based on criteria spelled out in the UDO.
In broad strokes, those criteria include: (1) consistency with the city’s comprehensive plan; (2) provision of adequate public services and facilities; and (3) minimization or mitigation of adverse impacts.
Beacon, which serves Bloomington’s houseless population, now operates a day shelter, the Shalom Center, which is on Walnut Street, south of Seminary Park. Beacon also operates an overnight shelter called Friends Place, at 919 S. Rogers Street, which is south of Dodds Street.
The concept for the project is to co-locate Beacon’s existing day shelter and overnight shelter, which will be located on the first floor of the new two-story building. The first floor is planned to include a commercial kitchen, bathrooms, showers, laundry, and a mailroom.
The new program of supportive housing units will occupy the second floor of the new building. The second floor will include 20 one-bedroom apartments for supportive housing and another five apartments for staff, who will be able to live there as part of their compensation for working at the facility.
Bloomington’s UDO defines “supportive housing” in a way that includes the following: “A temporary or permanent shelter for persons experiencing homelessness.” The definition continues, “For persons experiencing homelessness, there is no requirement that the persons live in a single housekeeping unit or that shelter provide care exclusively to persons requiring medical, correctional, or other mandated supervision or a protective environment.”
The letter to the BZA from Springpoint Architects on behalf of Beacon indicates that the project might be completed in phases. “Site development, housing units, and building shell will be completed in the first phase. The day center and overnight shelter may be white boxed until funding for those components can be secured.” The term “white boxed” means that the interior space is left in a basic, unfinished state.
The SpringPoint Architects team includes Barre Klapper, who serves on the five-member BZA, along with Tim Ballard, Flavia Burrell, Nikki Farrell, and Jo Throckmorton.
The conflict of interest would preclude Klapper’s participation in the vote on Beacon’s proposal. BZA members have alternates who can serve when the appointee is not able to do so. Klapper’s alternate is Autumn McCoy.
The BZA’s meeting information packet includes two letters of support for the project and one letter in opposition.