$350K demolition contract for 1st Street Hopewell buildings OK’d, one needs historic review

At its meeting this past Monday, Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) approved a $353,052 contract with Renascent for the demolition of 10 buildings south of 1st Street, in the vicinity of Fairview and Rogers streets.

It’s part of the planned new Hopewell neighborhood that is supposed to be developed on the site of the former IU Health hospital at 2nd and Rogers Streets.

Renascent is the same company that brought down the hospital buildings for IU Health.

The extent of the demolition approved on Monday extends from a bit west of Fairview Street to Rogers Street on the east. Listed in the bid package as an “alternate” but not included in the demolition contract is the building at 714 S. Rogers Street.

Responding to a B Square question, housing and neighborhood development (HAND) director John Zody wrote about the 714 Rogers property: “We believe there is some interest in potential redevelopment of the 714 S. Rogers St. property.”  Zody added, “To ensure all development options are considered, the RDC will await responses from the active Public Offering before making a final decision related to demolition.”

The public offering that Zody mentioned was approved at the RDC’s meeting a couple of weeks ago.  For purposes of the offering, the land was divided into three parts, numbered from east to west, with minimum bids for each part: Block 8 ($1,448,350), Block 9 ($1,448,350), and Block 10 ($664,030).

Approved by the RDC as a part of the demolition package on Monday was the house at 615 1st Street.  But 615 1st Street is a structure that is listed as “contributing” in a 2018 survey of historic properties in Bloomington.

At Monday’s RDC meeting Zody noted that the house at 615 1st Street would need to be reviewed by the city’s historic preservation commission (HPC), before it could be demolished.

The HPC would consider whether to recommend the property for historic designation or to greenlight a demolition. If the HPC were to recommend historic designation, it would be the Bloomington city council that would need to enact that protection.

At Monday’s meeting, RDC member Randy Cassady expressed some concern about the demolition of a potentially historic structure, even though he said he did not disagree with the reasons for going ahead and demolishing the buildings. Cassady put it like this: “I have very close care and concern for the historic fabric of Bloomington.”

The reasons proceeding with demolition were described by Deb Kunce, with JS Held, which is the RDC’s contracted project manager for the project.

Kunce described how the cost of the demolition would eventually be paid somehow, either now by the RDC, or by a future developer, who would inevitably take the cost out of the deal they did with the RDC. Kunce also indicated that the cost of securing and monitoring a site with vacant buildings should be weighed against the demolition cost.

There’s some question about whether Renascent could be expected to start with the demolition of the other buildings besides the 615 1st Street house, and still eventually demolish the house at the price it bid, which was $8,700. Based on the discussion at the RDC meeting, it’s possible that price was contingent on doing the demolition for all the buildings at the same time.

Responses to the public offering of the land south of 1st Street are supposed to be submitted by Nov. 1.