First phase demolition for Hopewell: Bloomington picks Renascent for $589K job

By the end of summer, all but three of the buildings on a central Bloomington block, near the former IU Health hospital site, are set to be demolished.

It’s the area that has been named the Hopewell neighborhood.

On Tuesday evening, Bloomington’s board of public works, as well as the city’s redevelopment commission (RDC), approved the $588,755 contract with Indianapolis-based Renascent, Inc. for the demolition work.

It’s a separate demolition project from the one already underway on the west end of the former IU Health hospital site. IU Health has to demolish all the structures on the main site, except for the parking garage and the Kohr administration building, before transferring ownership to the city of Bloomington.

It’s part of a $6.5-million real estate deal. In early December last year,  IU Health moved to its new facility on the east side of town, on the SR 45/46 bypass.

The focus of the demolition work approved on Tuesday is Phase 1 East in the city’s master plan for redevelopment of the former hospital site.  It’s the block bounded by 1st and 2nd streets on the north and south, and Morton and Rogers on the east and west. The demolition contract approved on Tuesday involves property already under the city’s control. Continue reading “First phase demolition for Hopewell: Bloomington picks Renascent for $589K job”

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”

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”

Bloomington pandemic update: A “sense of calm” as COVID-19 case numbers subside

Just two COVID-19 patients are currently being treated in IU Health hospitals across the health provider’s south central region, which includes Bloomington, Bedford and Paoli.

Both of those patients are at Bloomington’s new hospital, according to Brian Shockney, who is president of IU Health’s south central region. Shockney was speaking at Friday’s biweekly news conference of local leaders on pandemic response.

Shockney described a change in atmosphere at IU Health’s Bloomington hospital: “For the first time, our team was truly faced with a sense of calm this past week after these two years of pandemic.” Continue reading “Bloomington pandemic update: A “sense of calm” as COVID-19 case numbers subside”

Plat near former hospital OK’d by Bloomington plan commission, city council must approve alley vacation

Getting unanimous approval from Bloomington’s plan commission on Monday night was a new plat for most of the area bounded by 1st and 2nd streets on the north and south, and Morton and Rogers streets on the east and west.

A plat is a map that shows how the land is divided into lots.

The block is next to the former IU Health hospital site that is being transferred to the city of Bloomington in a $6.5-million real estate deal. It will be redeveloped as a part of that project, which is known as Phase 1 East in the project master plan.  Last week, the city of Bloomington announced that the future development planned there will be called the Hopewell neighborhood.

As part of the plat, Madison Street will be extended south from its current intersection with 2nd Street to 1st Street, and a new “greenway street” called West University Street will be built between Rogers and Morton Streets.

The next step for this particular block will be for the city council to approve the vacation of two alleyways. The alleys won’t be needed in those locations, given the construction of two new streets. (The alleys that need city council approval to be vacated are shown with yellow arrows in the image included with this article.)

The plat request was put forward by the Bloomington redevelopment commission, which is organ of the city that is paying for the real estate transaction as well as the site preparation and design.

The plat approval was not controversial for plan commissioners, two of whom were attending their first meeting as plan commissioners: Tim Ballard and city councilmember Ron Smith. Continue reading “Plat near former hospital OK’d by Bloomington plan commission, city council must approve alley vacation”

Hopewell: Name of new neighborhood to be built on former hospital site announced

When some Bloomington residents came together to engage the public process connected to the city’s rezoning effort a couple of years ago, they called themselves the Hopewell Group.

They took the moniker from the hospital that was opened about 120 years ago by the Local Council of Women at First and Rogers Streets. The brick building, which was called Hopewell House, along with four and a half acres of land, was purchased from Isaac Hopewell. The headline of the Nov. 29, 1905 edition of the Bloomington World read “Open Hospital.”

Also bearing the Hopewell name will be a new neighborhood to be built on the site of the hospital that eventually replaced Hopewell House. The city of Bloomington announced the choice of name in a news release issued Friday.

The name “Hopewell Subdivision” appears on the plat that Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) has submitted to the city’s plan commission for review at its Monday, Feb. 7 meeting. Continue reading “Hopewell: Name of new neighborhood to be built on former hospital site announced”

Plat for part of former IU hospital site gets OK to go in front of Bloomington plan commission

At its Monday meeting, Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) signed off on a proposed plat for some of the land to be redeveloped as a part of the reuse project for the former IU Health hospital at 2nd and Rogers Streets.

A plat is a map that shows how the land is divided into lots.

What the RDC was approving was the submission of the plat to the city plan commission. Once the plan commission approves it, probably at its Feb. 7 meeting, the RDC will confirm the plat with another vote, according to the RDC’s meeting information packet.

The land in question is bounded by 1st and 2nd streets on the north and south. The boundaries to the east and west are formed by Morton and Rogers streets. Continue reading “Plat for part of former IU hospital site gets OK to go in front of Bloomington plan commission”

Sheer number of COVID-19 cases has health care system struggling

The rolling average of positive COVID-19 cases in Monroe County now stands at about 152 per day. That’s almost twice the average this time last year. It’s also about 1.5 times the previous pandemic high point for the county, which came in November 2021.

It’s the same picture across all of Indiana. The rolling average of positive cases across the Hoosier state is 10,227, nearly twice the 5,500 average daily cases at this time last year.

Even if the infections caused by the Omicron variant of the virus might be comparatively milder, it’s their sheer number, and the likelihood of spread to vulnerable populations, that is still putting more people in the hospital. And that’s putting a continued strain on statewide and local health systems.

President of IU Health’s south central region, Brian Shockney, put it this way at a news conference of local leaders held Friday: “Omicron is hitting a high number of people and spreading fast to those immunocompromised patients. And they are what we can see in the initial stages here are getting hospitalized.”

Shockney continued, “IU Health is caring for its highest number of patients of the pandemic to date.” He added, “70 percent of these patients are unvaccinated.”

For the watching public, Shockney repeated what has become a kind of mantra: “Get vaccinated. Get boosted. Get tested.” Continue reading “Sheer number of COVID-19 cases has health care system struggling”

COVID-19 update: Top Hoosier health official’s forecast of “very steep rise in cases” true just one day later

Kristina Box, the health commissioner for the state of Indiana, warned at a Wednesday news conference about the looming impact of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Box put it this way: “We expect to see a very steep rise in cases over the next several weeks.”

On Thursday, the update to the state’s dashboard for COVID-19 data showed the biggest number of reported cases for any day since the start of the pandemic about 22 months ago.

According to the dashboard data, across the state of Indiana, 12,004 positive cases were reported for Dec. 29. That’s 1.5 times the previous high of 8,436 on Dec. 2, 2020.

The 12,004 cases pushed the current 7-day rolling average of positive cases in the Hoosier state to 5,784. Up until Thursday’s update, the statewide rolling averages had been trending in the low- to mid-4,000s.

In Monroe County, the positive cases reported for Dec. 29 showed a similar spike. The 163 cases reported for Dec. 29 in Monroe County made for the second-highest total of the pandemic. The only day with a higher total was Sept. 10, 2020, when 235 positive tests were recorded.

Late in the day on Thursday, the city of Bloomington reported an additional eight employees had tested positive for the pandemic virus, which made for 36 cases in the month of December. That outpaced the previous monthly high of 22, which was recorded in December 2020.

The one statistic that has not shown a steep increase in late 2021 has been the number of deaths. In Monroe County, November this year saw 17 deaths due to COVID-19, compared to 16 in 2020.

In December last year, 60 people in Monroe County died of the pandemic virus, according to state department of health statistics. In December 2021 so far, Monroe County has seen 12 COVID-19 deaths, just one-fifth the number last year.

The figure will likely climb by at least a few cases, when the book is closed on December this year. That’s because the month has a couple days left, and  deaths are assigned to the date of the death, not the day it was reported. That means deaths that happen in late December, but are not reported until early January, will still be logged in the state’s dataset by their December date.

Hospitalizations, in contrast to deaths, have spiked right along with the number of confirmed positive cases.

As IU Health south central region president Brian Shockney put it at Thursday’s news conference of local Bloomington leaders: “We are beyond our bed capacity—if you want to talk about what was designated for inpatient beds. I think probably every hospital in the state is at that point as well.”

Shockney described how IU Health’s new hospital facility, on Bloomington’s east side near the SR-46 bypass, is designed to have flexible room configurations that allow the hospital to “flex” the space. Beds not designated for inpatients are being adapted for that use.

Shockney described some beds that are typically used for surgical patients—they would normally start and end their procedures there. Given that all except for emergency surgical procedures have been stopped, those rooms are now being used for COVID-19 patients, Shockney said.

Shockney closed out his remarks by asking that people keep their New Year’s gatherings small. “I’d like to ask you to keep your New Year’s celebration to those small groups and families where you’re being safe and stopping the spread of this virus.”

Shockney talked about the best way to honor those who have suffered with COVID-19, the healthcare and public health heroes, and those who have died. Shockney called on people to usher in 2022 in a “peaceful and respectful way, remembering the past and protecting our future.”

IU Health moves operations to new hospital, first baby already delivered

In a news release issued mid-afternoon on Sunday, IU Health announced that the first baby had been born at its new hospital, which is located off the SR 46 bypass on the east side of town.

The news release states: “Parents Naomi and Miguel Ramirez welcomed their child Nahla shortly after 11 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 5 and are happy to report that mom and baby are doing well.”

It was in the early morning hours of Sunday, Dec. 5 that IU Health started its move from the hospital at 2nd and Rogers Street. The facility, which IU Health now calls the legacy IU Health Bloomington Hospital, is now slated for demolition, before it is transferred to the city of Bloomington in a $6.5-million real estate deal.

At 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon, the transport activity around the old site had diminished, but several cars were still parked in the lot at 2nd and Rogers. Over the next hour or so, a few hospital workers emerged from the building, walked down the stairway, got in their cars, and drove off.

A while later, an IU Health ambulance, with lights and siren blaring, sped east down 2nd Street—apparently responding to a call, not performing a transport.

Even though the general location of the new facility is often described as off the SR 46 bypass, the driveways to the hospital are off Discovery Parkway, which was formerly known as Range Road.

Heading east on Discovery Parkway, after the turn from SR 46, two hospital entrances come up immediately on the left. The emergency room is off the second entrance.

After the jump: Photos from IU Health’s documentation of the move. Continue reading “IU Health moves operations to new hospital, first baby already delivered”