At its Monday meeting, Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) gave a green light to the next incremental step in the construction of a technology center north of Bloomington’s city hall building, in the Trades District.
The center is expected to break ground in mid-2022 and be open in early- to mid-2024, according to Bloomington director of economic and sustainable development Alex Crowley.
The timing depends in part on some back-and-forth the city is having with the federal Economic Development administration (EDA), in connection with a $3.5 million grant awarded by the EDA for the center, Crowley wrote in a late-December email to The B Square.
The orange sections pictured are paved multi-use path/sidewalk and/or boardwalk (an accessible boardwalk goes off the top of the image to the waterfall.
Locator map for proposed road closure.
Section of road proposed for closure. It stopped short of the underpass, and did not extend to College Avenue.
At its regular Monday meeting, Bloomington’s redevelopment commission approved a $1.8-million contract with Scenic Construction Services, Inc. for work in Lower Cascades Park on the city’s north side.
The project calls for construction of a quarter mile of paved trail from the Sycamore Shelter on the north end of the park to the waterfall parking lot, a new ADA-accessible boardwalk up to the waterfall, and stabilization of 430 feet of streambank.
The work is expected to start in early July, according to Bloomington parks operations director Tim Street. Street filled the position when Dave Williams retired.
Street told The Square Beacon that the hoped-for timing is after the Fourth of July weekend.
According to the city, the conversion of the road to a route just for bicycles and pedestrians is intended to: “expand and integrate with Bloomington’s network of walking and biking trails; provide a safe, accessible destination for recreation and exercise; and to offer bicycle commuters additional options for safer routes.”
Accessibility issues related to the possible road closure also got some discussion from RDC members on Monday.
At its regular Monday meeting, Bloomington’s redevelopment commission voted to greenlight the formalization of a deal with a potential affordable housing developer for the Kohr Administration Center building, which is a part of the IU Health hospital on 2nd Street.
The city of Bloomington will be getting control of the Kohr building in the context of a $6.5 million real estate deal, which calls for Bloomington to take over the whole hospital property on 1st and 2nd streets in 2022. That will come after IU Health moves operations in late 2021 to its new facility, which is currently under construction on the SR-46 bypass.
The question of formalizing a Kohr building deal was put to the RDC, because it’s the public entity responsible for approving tax increment financing (TIF) district funds, which are being used to purchase the hospital site from IU Health.
The president of Bloomington’s redevelopment commission, Don Griffin, delivered an expected announcement at the group’s regular Monday night meeting: “At this time, I’d like to tender my resignation from the RDC, folks!”
The announcement came early in the 15-minute meeting. So assistant city attorney Larry Allen checked to make sure Griffin would be presiding over the rest of the day’s agenda. Yes.
“It will be effective at the end of this meeting,” Griffin said. He added, “This will be my last meeting on the RDC, period.”
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 regular meeting on Monday, Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) kept on a course that would preserve the Kohr Administration Center building as part of the IU Health hospital site at 1st and Rogers streets.
The RDC’s vote came in the context of a $6.5 million real estate deal, which calls for Bloomington to take over the hospital property on 1st and 2nd streets in 2022. That will come after IU Health moves operations in late 2021 to its new facility, which is currently under construction on the SR-46 bypass.
In other business related to the redevelopment of the hospital site, the RDC approved on Monday recommendations for agreements with SB Friedman Development Advisors ($39,410) and CORE Planning Strategies ($117,342) for financial analysis and project management.
The two agreements reflect an alternative to the approach the city had been pursuing for the last 18 months, to strike a decade-or-longer deal with Browning Development from Indianapolis to act as the city’s owner’s representative for future development.
At Monday’s meeting, deputy mayor Mick Renneisen described the end of the romance with Browning this way: “We had been dating for about 18 months, and we decided to see other people. It just wasn’t working out, and we’ve separated amicably.”
Also at its Monday meeting, the RDC approved lease offerings at a minimum of $20 per square foot for the ground floor space in the two parking garages that are currently under construction at 4th Street and in the Trades District.
Economic and sustainable development director Alex Crowley told RDC members the lot was not owned by IU Health, and would not be a part of the $6.5 million deal to transfer the hospital site to the city of Bloomington in 2021. That’s when IU Health moves to its new facility on the SR 45/46 bypass.
The parcel’s owner since 1900 has been C & S, Inc. according to Monroe County’s online property records.
The idea, Crowley said, is to “round out” the block of land the city will be acquiring with the IU Health land deal.
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.
Funding agreements between Bloomington’s HAND (Housing and Neighborhood Development) Department and eight local nonprofits totaling $253,862 were approved by the city’s redevelopment commission on Monday night.
The money is coming from a supplemental allocation of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding, which was made available by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
When its notice of available funding went out in May, HAND said it would consider applications ranging from $5,000 to $50,000. Three of the non-profits that had agreements approved on Monday received the maximum award: Boys & Girls Club, Hoosier Hills Food Bank, and Shalom Community Center (now Beacon).
The city’s May press release said HAND had received $525,656 of supplemental funding. Monday’s agreements fell about $270,000 short of that total.
Asked if HAND was leaving CARES Act money on the table, HAND director Doris Sims said, “We didn’t leave it on the table. We did have more applicants who applied.” She added that the additional applicants had asked for funding that did not meet the requirements under the CARES Act.
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.