For the first six months of 2022, the peak occupied state of the garage came on June 22 between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. when 315 cars were parked in the garage—based on the numbers provided by the city. More typical peak occupancy for a weekday is around 150 cars.
The reports generated by the parking system software show the capacity of the garage at 500 spaces, but during the design and approval phase for the garage, the number was pegged at 537 spaces. A manual count by the B Square this week put the number of total spaces at 560.
Based on 560 spaces, a typical peak occupancy of 150 on any given day works out to about 27 percent. A conventional parking industry benchmark is that 85 percent occupancy is perceived as full.
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 34 apartments include 20 studios at 500-square feet apiece and 14 one-bedroom units with 684-square feet each.
The site plan was in front of the plan commission not because of its unit count, which is under the threshold of 50 units that requires commission review. Triggering plan commission review was the gross floor area of 35,632 square feet, which is more than the threshold of 15,000 square feet.
The project will not need additional approval from the city council. Based on a letter on behalf of the owner included in the meeting information packet, construction is supposed to start in late summer or early fall of 2022 and finish by August 2023.
The lot is not yet developed with the project that the new zoning allowed: a building with studios, 1-bedroom, and 2-bedroom apartments totaling 344-bedrooms, which also incorporates a 306-space parking garage and 19,000 of commercial space.
No formal bids were received by the city of Bloomington for the leases of the ground floor space in either of the two parking garages that are now under construction.
That was the anticlimactic news from Monday’s meeting of the city’s redevelopment commission (RDC).
One of the garages is on Fourth Street, to open in August. The other is northwest of city hall in the Trades District, set to open towards the end of March.
The lack of bids is not a setback, according to city’s director of economic and sustainable development Alex Crowley.
Crowley told The Square Beacon after the RDC meeting, “I’m not actually fazed by the lack of bids.”
One reason Crowley is not concerned by the lack of offers is that advertising for bids is a legally required procedure that the RDC has to follow. It was not, as Crowley put it, “a highly visible/marketed listing.”
At its meeting last Thursday, Bloomington’s parking commission got a quick briefing from city garage manager Ryan Daily, about the end of first-hour-free parking in city garages downtown. That’s slated under local law for Jan. 1, 2020.
That’s because the press release also announced some free parking during Thanksgiving and Christmas. The mayor has discretion under local law to waive parking fees “during the holiday season.”
Jan. 1 falls on a Friday, and according to the press release, Saturday parking in city garages will be free in December. Sunday garage parking is always free. So it’s Jan. 4 that will mark the dawn of a no-free-parking era in downtown Bloomington parking garages.
According to the press release, for the week of Thanksgiving—from Thursday, (Nov. 26) through Sunday (Nov. 29)—there will be no charge for street parking downtown, where meters are normally enforced, or in city garages.
One of the two parking garages currently under construction in downtown Bloomington is close enough to completion that on Tuesday afternoon a dozen city insiders and media types got a tour.
Just north of city hall, the opening of the Trades District garage, with around 380 parking spaces, is on course for late March. But enough of the main elements are in place that it’s already unmistakable as a parking garage.
That contrasts with the replacement facility for the 4th Street deck, which is not due to come online until August of 2021. So it’s still coming out of the ground.
Of the 540 spaces to be constructed in the 4th Street replacement garage, 352 count as replacements for the spaces that were housed in the previous 4th Street structure. It was closed at the end of 2018 due to structural failure, and demolished last year.
Leading Tuesday’s tour were Bloomington’s director for economic and sustainable development, Alex Crowley, and Josh Scism, with Core Planning Strategies, the firm that’s managing both parking garage projects.
Scism focused the group’s attention on the structural elements: concrete, cabling, pumps and the like.
On Monday night, action by Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) ensured that a contract is in place, with Evens Time, Inc., to provide parking control equipment for the two new parking garages currently under construction.
One of the garages is a replacement facility for the 4th Street deck, which was determined to have structural issues and was demolished last year. The new garage is due to come online in August of 2021.
The other garage is being built in the Trades District to the west of city hall. It’s closer to completion and is expected to open in March of 2021.
The equipment covered in the roughly $335,000 contract includes barrier arms, magnetic coils, credit card exit terminals, barcode imaging kits and the like—the hardware necessary to admit and release parking patrons into the garages.
Bloomington is still reserving the right to appeal its unsuccessful eminent domain action to acquire additional land to replace the 352-space parking garage that stood downtown at the corner of 4th and Walnut streets.