Bloomington plan commission gives rezoning for student housing a standard second hearing

A commonly known connection between Bloomington, Indiana, and Athens, Georgia is based on the 1979 movie “Breaking Away.” The film was shot in Bloomington, where both the movie and short-lived TV series were set. The TV series was shot in Athens.

A second connection between the two small cities was highlighted at Monday night’s meeting of Bloomington’s plan commission. The new property developer for the predominantly student-rented  Brownstone Terrace, who wants to demolish the complex and build a new, bigger student-oriented housing in its place, is Landmark Properties, based in Athens.

Landmark Properties develops student housing under its brand, “The Standard.” The owner’s name on the property records is The Standard at Bloomington.

On Monday night, plan commissioners got a formal introduction to the request from The Standard to rezone the property from planned unit development (PUD) to a new zoning classification in the recently adopted unified development ordinance (UDO), which is multi-use student housing (MS).

The plan commission’s reaction to the proposal seemed neutral to somewhat favorable. After giving the request less than an hour of deliberations, no action was taken except to move the rezoning request along to a second hearing. That was planning staff’s recommendation.

The second hearing will take place at the plan commission’s regular second-Monday monthly meeting on Oct. 12. The question in front of the plan commission is whether to grant the rezoning request, not to approve the site plan—even if some the presentation includes the kind of detailed renderings often associated with site plan presentations.

The Standard would demolish several two-story buildings with a total of 120 apartments. The PUD zoning for the current project was approved by the plan commission in 1984, five years after “Breaking Away” first appeared in theaters.

In place of the current development, The Standard would build a new student-oriented, residential development with 433 apartments and 1,072 bedrooms in five- and six-story buildings. A parking garage with 681 parking spaces would be built as a part of the development. The project would fit within the zoning specifications of the requested MS zoning. Continue reading “Bloomington plan commission gives rezoning for student housing a standard second hearing”

Zoning for 750-bed student complex gets OK, after local lawmakers relent

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Proposed planned unit development (PUD) zoning for a 750-bed student housing project on North Walnut Street, at the site of the current Motel 6, is now approved after a special meeting of the Bloomington City council on Monday night.

Responding to a question from The Beacon after the meeting, St. Louis-based Collegiate Development Group’s Brandt Stiles said construction is planned to start in July 2020, and the first tenants are expected to be able to move in by August 2022.

The council had defeated the proposed PUD zoning 12 days earlier with a vote of 3-5-1. Those five votes against the project on the nine-member council were enough to reject it on Sept. 4, after the city’s plan commission had recommended it unanimously.

Of the five previous no votes on the city council, two changed to yes—Steve Volan and Isabel Piedmont-Smith’s. Changing his vote from abstention to a yes was Chris Sturbaum. So the PUD zoning was approved on a 5-3 tally. Possibly adding a sixth to the yes side would have been Allison Chopra, who voted for the PUD on Sept. 4. She was absent from Monday’s meeting.

Voting no were Dave Rollo, Dorothy Granger and Andy Ruff.

Achieving clarity in writing about various concessions offered by CDG, through “reasonable conditions,” proved to be persuasive enough to add the three yes votes.

Those conditions included: sliding the building to the west nearer Walnut Street; creating a plaza in place of parking in front of the building, with two pedestrian access points to the plaza; removal of one floor from the east building; 50 solar panels generating a total of 20kW; a 20,000 square-foot green roof; parking offered to tenants only on an a-la-carte basis; $300,000 worth of sidewalk improvements on Walnut, and from Walnut to Dunn on 19th Street; funding of a Bloomington Transit route five miles long (around $130,000 a year); and adding additional brick to the facade.

Also a part of the project is a donation to the city’s housing development fund of more than $2 million.

The three councilmembers in opposition to the project did not exploit a chance they had towards the beginning of the meeting to end the proceedings early, and let the council’s Sept. 4 vote stand. That’s because the motion to suspend the rules, in order to bring back the question, needed a two-thirds majority, which is six votes on the nine-member council.

Had all three voted against suspending the rules, the motion, in Chopra’s absence, would fallen short of the six votes it needed. If that vote had failed, the next motion would have been to adjourn.

During the meeting, Rollo said that as a councilmember he might have voted against suspending the rules, but as president of the council, he wanted to allow the council’s majority to prevail on the merits of the project, which he understood to be in favor. After the meeting, Ruff called the decision to treat as separate issues the motion to suspend the rules and the vote on the project itself the “right thing to do.”

Continue reading “Zoning for 750-bed student complex gets OK, after local lawmakers relent”

Rejected student housing proposal on North Walnut could be revived on Sept. 16 (Updated)

The planned unit development (PUD) zoning for a 750-bedroom student-oriented housing development on N. Walnut Street, which was defeated by the Bloomington city council a little over a week ago (Sept. 4), could be back for reconsideration on Monday, Sept. 16.

CDG location map iso Screen Shot 2019-07-29 at 11.01.38 AM

The location and time for a special session of the city council are different from regular meetings. The special Sept. 16 meeting will be held sometime between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Convention Center at 302 S. College in the Cook Room.

Why the indeterminate start time? A meeting of the city council, the county council, the county’s board of commissioners, and the mayor is scheduled at the same location at 5:30 p.m., to discuss the convention center expansion.

The special city council meeting will start when the four-way meeting concludes.

The purpose of the special meeting is possibly to reconsider the Sept. 4 vote that defeated Collegiate Development Group’s PUD proposal for the site of the current Motel 6.

But the first question faced by councilmembers will be whether to suspend the rules to re-open the issue of the PUD for another vote. The council’s attorney/administrator Dan Sherman told The Beacon Thursday afternoon that the decision to suspend the rules will require six votes, more than a simple majority, on the nine-member council. Continue reading “Rejected student housing proposal on North Walnut could be revived on Sept. 16 (Updated)”

Collegiate Development Group’s modified student housing proposal rejected by Bloomington city council

Bloomington’s city council voted Wednesday night on proposed zoning for a student-oriented housing development at the site of the current Motel 6 on North Walnut Street. The outcome was 3–5–1.

That is, it got three votes in favor, five against, and one abstention from the nine-member council.

That tally defeated Collegiate Development Group’s proposal for planned unit development (PUD) zoning, to accommodate a 750-bed development at the site.

The bedroom count had been trimmed, from 820, in the week since the council’s land use committee met for a second time on the proposal. The committee’s vote on its recommendation to the full council was 0-1-3. The reduced number of bedrooms was a result of slicing the top floor off one of the buildings. Based on the formula used by CDG to calculate its contribution to the city’s housing development fund, the bedroom reduction dropped the amount from $2.46 million to $2.25 million.

Other changes in the last week included the addition of a 2,000 square foot green roof and 50 solar panels that could generate 20kW of power—for common areas and the 457-space parking structure that was a part of the development. Continue reading “Collegiate Development Group’s modified student housing proposal rejected by Bloomington city council”

City council’s land use committee to discuss 820-bed student housing development

On Wednesday, Bloomington councilmembers will begin their deliberations on Collegiate Development Group’s proposed 820-bed planned unit development (PUD) on North Walnut at the site of the current Motel 6.

CDG location map iso Screen Shot 2019-07-29 at 11.01.38 AMAt 5:30 p.m. the project will be considered by the four-member land use committee: councilmembers Allison Chopra, Isabel Piedmont-Smith, Chris Sturbaum and Steve Volan.

The regular meeting on Wednesday is set to start at 7:30 p.m.—when the council could possibly make changes to parking regulations on Dunn Street and along 17th Street. So the plan is for the land use committee to wrap up by 7:15 p.m.

When the CDG project had its first reading on July 31, the council voted to refer it to the land use committee. The committee will make a recommendation to the council as a whole.

[Meeting agendas and information packets are available for download on Bloomington’s website. They’re live streamed on CATS.]
Continue reading “City council’s land use committee to discuss 820-bed student housing development”

City Council Preview July 31, 2019: Scooters, a PUD, not Dunn parking

When Bloomington’s common council meets on Wednesday in regular session for the first time since June 12, the city’s nine elected representatives will confront for the fifth time a package of legislation that regulates shared-use (and other) e-scooters.
R Map July 31 Agenda PreviewCityCounccilPreviewxxxx
Local scooter laws are likely to be the focus of detailed deliberations at the regular meeting, unlike the other two main topics on the agenda.

The council will get a first reading of a proposed zoning ordinance change to allow for construction of an 820-bedroom project at the site of the current Motel 6 on Walnut Street, across from Miller Showers Park. Based on a note in the packet of meeting materials, the first council deliberations on the project are not expected to take place until Aug. 7, at a committee meeting.

The council will also get a first reading of some changes to ordinances involving parking. Those ordinance changes are on the agenda for the committee of the whole, which will convene right after the regular session adjourns on Wednesday. One parking ordinance change would remove some, but not all, “no parking” restrictions on Dunn Street. The other ordinance involving parking involves loosening the membership requirements of the parking commission.

More on e-scooters, student housing and parking after the jump. [Meeting agendas and information packets are available for download on Bloomington’s website. Regular meetings start at 6:30 p.m. in city council chambers at city hall. They’re live streamed on CATS.]
Continue reading “City Council Preview July 31, 2019: Scooters, a PUD, not Dunn parking”

Math Journal: Bedroom arithmetic

New building projects in Bloomington can be controversial, especially when the proposed new apartments are marketed to students at Indiana University. Typical for such projects are higher numbers of bedrooms for each apartment.

CDG Development Motel 6 site
A rendering of Collegiate Development Group’s proposed project on North Walnut Street viewed from the southwest.

A recently proposed 820-bedroom housing development on North Walnut, at the current Motel 6 site, prompted this comment from one city councilmember about the number of four-bedroom units in the proposal (compared with other, smaller apartments):

“All I can say is, Wow!”

Collegiate Development Group’s proposal will be in front of Bloomington’s city council for a first reading on Wednesday, July 31, 2019. In mid-June the city’s plan commission voted unanimously in favor of the site plan. Continue reading “Math Journal: Bedroom arithmetic”