Bloomington looks finally to put commercial tenants in ground floors of city parking garages

The ground floor commercial space in the city of Bloomington’s two new public parking garages—on 4th Street and in the Trades District—could finally see some tenants, more than a year after construction was completed.

Terms for lease agreements in both parking garages appear on the agenda for Monday’s regular meeting of Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC).

Slotting into the 4th Street space will be Hoosier Networks. That’s the company formed by Paris-based Meridiam to do business in Indiana, as part of deal with the city of Bloomington to build a fiber-to-the-home network in the city.

Hoosier Networks will also be able to lease some temporary space in College Square, which is the former location of the Bunger & Robertson law firm, which the RDC purchased with an eye towards developing the parcel as part of an expanded convention center.  It’s the spot where Bloomington’s downtown fire station has landed temporarily after the June 2021 flooding damaged the fire station at 4th and Lincoln streets.

Taking the Trades District garage space will be the University of California – Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. That’s after the RDC in mid-April had approved terms of a lease with the software company Exclaimer for the Trades District garage space. The Trades District garage ground floor space for lease is still an empty box—it doesn’t look like it ever got built out for Exclaimer.

Continue reading “Bloomington looks finally to put commercial tenants in ground floors of city parking garages”

Winslow Road resurfacing gets some discussion by Bloomington RDC, but no vote on contract

The yellow area is Bloomington’s consolidated TIF district. The purple line is the original scope of the Winslow Road project all the way to High Street. That scope has been dialed back to Allendale Drive.

An item related to a Winslow Road resurfacing project—which was postponed by Bloomington’s redevelopment commission from its meeting two weeks ago—still did not get a vote by the RDC on Monday.

The resolution that appeared Monday’s meeting agenda did not need a vote, according to assistant city attorney Larry Allen, because the construction contracts were not yet ready to be approved. And the contract approvals were not yet ready because the grant from INDOT’s Community Crossings matching grant program has not yet been awarded.

But public works director Adam Wason was able to respond to questions from RDC members about the project. The item had been postponed from two weeks ago, because Wason was not able to attend that meeting.

On Monday, Allen also sketched out the legal department’s position on why TIF (tax increment finance) funds are allowed to be spent on a project like Winslow Road resurfacing. The project entails milling down the surface of the road by a couple of inches, laying new asphalt and re-striping the pavement.

Winslow Road cuts east-west across the southern part of Bloomington. Continue reading “Winslow Road resurfacing gets some discussion by Bloomington RDC, but no vote on contract”

Griffy dam trail crossing gets OK from Bloomington RDC: “It’s not within the TIF—it’s serving the TIF.”

A gravel path across the top of Griffy dam, including staircase access and safety fencing, with an estimated cost of $375,000, now has approval in concept as a Bloomington redevelopment commission project.

The unanimous vote by the five-member Bloomington RDC came at the group’s regular meeting on Monday. No expenditure of funds was approved with Monday’s vote.

It’s currently possible for hikers to get across the dam by going through a fence, Bloomington parks operations manager Tim Street told the RDC. But the new path will “formalize” the crossing and in places improve the aesthetics of chain link with cedar split rail fence.

The Griffy dam trail crossing is on the list of projects approved by the Bloomington city council and the board of park commissioners in May this year, as part of a $10-million bond package. Half that amount was was made up of parks bonds.

When Bloomington’s city council gave its approval for issuance of the parks bonds, it put the dam crossing last on in its priority ranking.

The low priority ranking by the city council is key to the RDC’s agreement now to make the dam crossing one of its projects to be paid for out of tax increment finance (TIF) revenue. Continue reading “Griffy dam trail crossing gets OK from Bloomington RDC: “It’s not within the TIF—it’s serving the TIF.””

Winslow Road repaving gets initial $500K nod from Bloomington RDC

Winslow Road, which cuts east-west across the southern part of Bloomington, has received a nod from the city’s redevelopment commission for a resurfacing project that is supposed to be completed sometime in 2023.

The preliminary engineering work for the project is hoped to start this fall and last through the spring, with construction to begin in 2023.

The RDC’s initial approval, which came at its regular Tuesday meeting,  established the work as an RDC project, with a kind of placeholder cost of $500,000. But the action by the five-member RDC did not approve the expenditure of any funds.

The scope of the project goes from Walnut Street on the west to High Street to the east.

Public works director Adam Wason responded to an emailed B Square question by describing the planned work as a “standard milling/paving/lane marking project.” Continue reading “Winslow Road repaving gets initial $500K nod from Bloomington RDC”

Property acquisition notebook: Appraisals of former Showers building, also done 3 years ago

Last Friday, the city of Bloomington issued a news release announcing a potential real estate purchase.

The city has made a $9.25-million offer to CFC Properties to buy the west part of the former Showers furniture factory building, which is home to city hall. While city hall has a Morton Street address, the other side of the building has the address 320 W. 8th Street.

CFC has accepted the offer, and after various due diligence activities are completed, the closing is expected no later than early next year. The process requires an approval from Bloomington’s city council.

The pending real estate purchase offers a window into some of the statutory requirements that apply to such deals. Continue reading “Property acquisition notebook: Appraisals of former Showers building, also done 3 years ago”

Bloomington RDC hopes to seal deal on smell for some offices at adaptive reuse coworking project

B Square file photo of The Mill, a co-working space in Bloomington, Indiana.

Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) is hoping that a $12,000 contract with Ann-Kriss, Inc.—to paint and seal some brick and concrete surfaces in an old industrial building—will wrap up an issue with lingering odor that has beleaguered part of the roughly $5.5 million adaptive reuse project.

According to Bloomington’s director of economic and sustainable development, Alex Crowley, the issue with the unpleasant smell is limited to the confined space inside some of the interior offices. It has apparently not been a problem throughout the relatively open layout of the former dimension mill of the Showers Company furniture factory.

The building, which is located north of city hall in the Trades District, launched as a coworking space in 2018. The RDC leases the building to the Dimension Mill, Inc., which is a nonprofit formed to operate it.  Under the terms of the lease, DMI is paying the RDC $75,000 this year. Next year that amount goes up to $100,000.

The sealing work was described by Crowley at Tuesday’s RDC meeting as the final step of some measures that had been recommended by VET Environmental Engineering, after the company conducted some indoor air testing in early 2020 and again in early 2021. Continue reading “Bloomington RDC hopes to seal deal on smell for some offices at adaptive reuse coworking project”

Vacation of alleys for hospital site redevelopment gets yes from Bloomington council on second try

At its meeting on Wednesday, Bloomington’s city council voted unanimously to vacate parts of two alleys in one of the blocks near the former site of the IU Health hospital.

The request came from the Hamilton administration through the Bloomington redevelopment commission (RDC).

The block in question is bounded by Morton and Rogers streets on the east and west, and by 2nd and 1st streets on the north and south.

The vacation of alleys approved by the council on Wednesday was the same proposal that had failed on a 4–5 vote in the first week of April.

But the council used an uncommon procedure from Robert’s Rules—called “renewal” of a motion—to consider the question again on Wednesday.

Convincing the council to revisit the question were several concessions made by the administration in connection with the planning for the former hospital site, which has been named the Hopewell neighborhood. Continue reading “Vacation of alleys for hospital site redevelopment gets yes from Bloomington council on second try”

Trades District garage lines up software company as commercial space tenant: Exclaimer

The first tenant of the commercial space that was built on the ground floor of the new 350-space Trades District parking garage will be a software company called Exclaimer.

Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) approved a draft lease for the 4,059-square-foot space at its regular Monday evening meeting.

The commercial space to be leased fronts South Rogers Street. The Trades District is the area north of the city hall and county government building on Morton Street, bounded on the north by 11th Street.

On Monday, Bloomington director of economic and sustainable development Alex Crowley described the deal to RDC members as essentially a four-year lease with the option to exit the agreement at the end of year three—as long as Exclaimer covers half the rent that they would have paid through year four.

The $19 per square foot that Exclaimer will be paying at the beginning of the agreement amounts to $6,426 a month, or about $77,000 per year. Part of the deal includes a “tenant improvement allowance” of up to $55 per square foot, which totals $223,245. Continue reading “Trades District garage lines up software company as commercial space tenant: Exclaimer”

Bloomington city council balks for now at vacating some public right-of-way on former hospital site

A request from Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) to vacate parts of two alleys in one of the blocks near the former site of the IU Health hospital was denied by Bloomington’s city council at its Wednesday meeting.

The vote was split 4–5, but not along familiar lines.

Voting to give up the right-of-way were: Isabel Piedmont-Smith, Sue Sgambelluri, Jim Sims, and Ron Smith. Voting against the vacation of the alleys were: Matt Flaherty, Dave Rollo, Kate Rosenbarger, Susan Sandberg, and Steve Volan.

The RDC’s request came in connection with the planned redevelopment of the site, which Bloomington is acquiring from the health provider in a $6.5 million real estate deal. Continue reading “Bloomington city council balks for now at vacating some public right-of-way on former hospital site”

Column: Blurry images instead of digital text should not be good enough for Bloomington government

The government of every city in America tries to talk a good game about transparency and accessibility.

Bloomington, Indiana is no different.

But Bloomington fails at basic accessibility just as often as many other cities with way fewer resources.

Today’s example comes from the information packet that has been posted to support the Bloomington redevelopment commission’s Monday (March 7, 2022) meeting. Continue reading “Column: Blurry images instead of digital text should not be good enough for Bloomington government”