Bloomington BPW affirms order to AT&T: Take gear off Johnson’s Creamery smokestack by May 31

At its Tuesday evening meeting, Bloomington’s board of public works voted to affirm an order from the city’s housing and neighborhood development (HAND) department, which requires AT&T to remove its communications equipment from near the top of the Johnson’s Creamery smokestack—by midnight on May 31.

The removal of AT&T’s equipment will help set the stage for the owner’s partial demolition of the smokestack—from 140 feet down to 60 feet. The building, with its smokestack, is owned by Peerless Development.

The partial demolition was ordered by HAND because an engineering study determined the smokestack is unsafe.

If AT&T doesn’t comply with the order to vacate, it could face a daily fine of $500 from the city of Bloomington. Continue reading “Bloomington BPW affirms order to AT&T: Take gear off Johnson’s Creamery smokestack by May 31”

Johnson’s smokestack: Owner’s alley request seen as chance to “leverage” historic tribute

The Johnson’s Creamery smokestack will soon be back in the civic spotlight—for two reasons.

First, at its meeting this Tuesday,  Bloomington’s three-member board of public works will be asked to affirm an order from the city’s housing and neighborhood development (HAND) department,  which requires AT&T to remove its communications equipment from the top of the smokestack by midnight on May 31.

The removal of AT&T’s equipment will help set the stage for the owner’s partial demolition of the smokestack—from 140 feet down to 60 feet. The building, with its smokestack, is owned by Peerless Development.

The partial demolition was ordered by HAND because an engineering study determined the smokestack is unsafe.

Second, Peerless Development will be asking the city council to vacate an east-west alley that cuts across the parcel.

The alley vacation is needed in order for Peerless to move ahead with a development on the northern part of the parcel. The housing development is supposed to include 60 apartments with a total of 74 bedrooms, right next to the B-Line Trail. Bloomington’s plan commission approved the site plan for the new development in October 2021.

The request for an alley vacation will likely land on the city council’s May 18 agenda as a first reading, and possibly get final action at the council’s regular meeting on June 1.

Vacating a public-right-of-way means that the city is ceding to a private entity the public’s claim to the land.

In connection with the requested alley vacation, Bloomington’s city council could be looking to extract a concession from Peerless to construct some kind of creative artwork to commemorate the lost height of the smokestack. That’s based on the discussion at the city council’s work session held last Friday.

The idea of a commemorative artwork is not new. Continue reading “Johnson’s smokestack: Owner’s alley request seen as chance to “leverage” historic tribute”

Johnson’s Creamery building, 60 feet of smokestack get historic protection from Bloomington city council

The 140-foot Johnson’s Creamery smokestack will get demolished down to just 60 feet sometime in the next few weeks.

But it won’t get chopped down any shorter than that, because Bloomington’s city council has now enacted a historic district for the building, including its smokestack.

The Johnson’s Creamery is located on 7th Street just west of the B-Line Trail. The trail is temporarily closed where it runs past the smokestack out of a concern for public safety—because the smokestack is leaning and has been determined to be unsafe.

The council’s action came on a 9–0 vote at its regular meeting on Wednesday.

At its meeting last week. Bloomington’s historic preservation commission (HPC) went ahead and issued a certificate of appropriateness for the demolition of the smokestack down to 60 feet. The HPC’s action anticipated the council would establish a historic district for the building.

If the council had not enacted a historic district that included the smokestack, it could have been completely demolished. Continue reading “Johnson’s Creamery building, 60 feet of smokestack get historic protection from Bloomington city council”

HPC says Johnson’s smokestack OK to be chopped to 60 feet, Bloomington city council next to weigh in

On Thursday, Bloomington’s historic preservation commission (HPC) voted to approve a certificate of appropriateness (COA) for the demolition of the Johnson’s Creamery smokestack down to 60 feet.

No conditions are attached to the COA. The commission weighed the idea of requiring the owner to propose a way to commemorate the history of the building through an artwork. But in the end that was not a part of the COA.

Thursday’s vote put back on the books the action taken by HPC last week, but which it rescinded at the same meeting, amid confusion about the substance of the vote.

The city’s housing and neighborhood development (HAND) department has issued an order to the owner, Peerless Development, to demolish the smokestack down to 60 feet, based on a report recently completed by Arsee Engineers.

The engineering report concluded that the structure cannot be restored at its full height and still meet modern building codes. Any masonry smokestack would be susceptible to wind and seismic loads that would preclude restoration at that height, the report said.

Thursday’s action is meant to preserve as much of the 140-foot smokestack as possible. Continue reading “HPC says Johnson’s smokestack OK to be chopped to 60 feet, Bloomington city council next to weigh in”