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”

Bloomington estimates $900K from feds for community grants, RDC OKs recommendations

At its Monday meeting, Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) signed off on recommendations for spending $1.1 million of federal community development block grant (CDBG) money for 2022.

The recommendations came from a citizens advisory committee. The money will go to more than a dozen different non-profits—for social services and for physical improvements.

The recommendations also include money for two city departments: $140,000 to the engineering department for sidewalk improvements on Adams Street; and $110,000 to utilities for bio-retention ponds.

CDBG grants are awarded every year. After receiving $1,017,968 last year, the city is estimating that this year’s allocation will be $900,000.

But the recommendations considered by the RDC on Monday totaled $1.1 million. That’s because $200,000 of funding that was unused in previous years is being tapped this year, according to John Zody, who’s director of Bloomington’s housing and neighborhood development (HAND) department. Continue reading “Bloomington estimates $900K from feds for community grants, RDC OKs recommendations”

Bloomington’s Seminary Park to get 5 new lights

Seminary Park, on the south side of 2nd Street between College Avenue and Walnut Street, will be getting five new LED lights.

They’ll be placed at locations throughout the park, replacing the non-working or broken off “acorn style” fixtures currently there.

The $29,565 contract with ESL/Spectrum, an Indianapolis firm, was approved by Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) at its regular Monday meeting. Monday’s approval covers just the hardware, not the installation of the lights.

Assistant city attorney Larry Allen told the RDC members that they’d be asked to approve the cost of labor for the installation at a future meeting.

The fixtures are described in the meeting information packet as “dark-sky friendly,” which means that they will be shielded from directing light upwards.

Seminary Park is within the geographic boundaries of Bloomington’s consolidated tax increment finance (TIF) district. That means the RDC can use TIF revenue to pay for the capital project. Continue reading “Bloomington’s Seminary Park to get 5 new lights”