Griffy dam trail crossing gets OK from Bloomington RDC: “It’s not within the TIF—it’s serving the TIF.”

A gravel path across the top of Griffy dam, including staircase access and safety fencing, with an estimated cost of $375,000, now has approval in concept as a Bloomington redevelopment commission project.

The unanimous vote by the five-member Bloomington RDC came at the group’s regular meeting on Monday. No expenditure of funds was approved with Monday’s vote.

It’s currently possible for hikers to get across the dam by going through a fence, Bloomington parks operations manager Tim Street told the RDC. But the new path will “formalize” the crossing and in places improve the aesthetics of chain link with cedar split rail fence.

The Griffy dam trail crossing is on the list of projects approved by the Bloomington city council and the board of park commissioners in May this year, as part of a $10-million bond package. Half that amount was was made up of parks bonds.

When Bloomington’s city council gave its approval for issuance of the parks bonds, it put the dam crossing last on in its priority ranking.

The low priority ranking by the city council is key to the RDC’s agreement now to make the dam crossing one of its projects to be paid for out of tax increment finance (TIF) revenue. Continue reading “Griffy dam trail crossing gets OK from Bloomington RDC: “It’s not within the TIF—it’s serving the TIF.””

Showers building purchase update: Bloomington RDC OKs $68K in due diligence contracts

The city of Bloomington’s hoped-for purchase of the western portion of the Showers building, where city hall is located, took an incremental step forward on Monday.

In connection with due diligence work in advance of the $9.25-million purchase from CFC Properties,  Bloomington’s RDC has approved three contracts totaling $67,800. The unanimous approvals came at the RDC’s regular meeting on Monday.

Approved at Monday’s meeting were: a contract with BCA Environmental for environmental analysis ($2,800); a contract with Tabor/Bruce Architecture & Design for investigation of the building’s mechanical systems ($15,000); and a contract with Springpoint Architects for a public safety evaluation ($50,000). Continue reading “Showers building purchase update: Bloomington RDC OKs $68K in due diligence contracts”

Property acquisition notebook: Appraisals of former Showers building, also done 3 years ago

Last Friday, the city of Bloomington issued a news release announcing a potential real estate purchase.

The city has made a $9.25-million offer to CFC Properties to buy the west part of the former Showers furniture factory building, which is home to city hall. While city hall has a Morton Street address, the other side of the building has the address 320 W. 8th Street.

CFC has accepted the offer, and after various due diligence activities are completed, the closing is expected no later than early next year. The process requires an approval from Bloomington’s city council.

The pending real estate purchase offers a window into some of the statutory requirements that apply to such deals. Continue reading “Property acquisition notebook: Appraisals of former Showers building, also done 3 years ago”

Column: Blurry images instead of digital text should not be good enough for Bloomington government

The government of every city in America tries to talk a good game about transparency and accessibility.

Bloomington, Indiana is no different.

But Bloomington fails at basic accessibility just as often as many other cities with way fewer resources.

Today’s example comes from the information packet that has been posted to support the Bloomington redevelopment commission’s Monday (March 7, 2022) meeting. Continue reading “Column: Blurry images instead of digital text should not be good enough for Bloomington government”

Bloomington estimates $900K from feds for community grants, RDC OKs recommendations

At its Monday meeting, Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) signed off on recommendations for spending $1.1 million of federal community development block grant (CDBG) money for 2022.

The recommendations came from a citizens advisory committee. The money will go to more than a dozen different non-profits—for social services and for physical improvements.

The recommendations also include money for two city departments: $140,000 to the engineering department for sidewalk improvements on Adams Street; and $110,000 to utilities for bio-retention ponds.

CDBG grants are awarded every year. After receiving $1,017,968 last year, the city is estimating that this year’s allocation will be $900,000.

But the recommendations considered by the RDC on Monday totaled $1.1 million. That’s because $200,000 of funding that was unused in previous years is being tapped this year, according to John Zody, who’s director of Bloomington’s housing and neighborhood development (HAND) department. Continue reading “Bloomington estimates $900K from feds for community grants, RDC OKs recommendations”

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”

Bloomington’s Trades District technology center takes small step forward

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 Trades District is a certified technology park.

What the RDC approved was a revision to the project review form for a roughly $5.5-million technology center.

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.

Wednesday’s project form revision spells out $500,000 as the amount planned for the design services for the project. The firm that has done the initial conceptual and preliminary designs is Axis Architecture + Interiors. Continue reading “Bloomington’s Trades District technology center takes small step forward”

$1.8 million OK’d for Lower Cascade paths, with road closure decision on horizon

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.

The project is being funded from a mix of tax increment finance (TIF) revenue, “bicentennial” bonds,  and 2016 parks general obligation bonds, according to the RDC resolution approved on Monday.

The current pilot closure of the road through Lower Cascades Park is related geographically to the trail construction and streambank stabilization. On June 22, the three-member board of public works is expected to take a vote on a permanent road closure.

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.

The road closure affects the distance someone would have to cover without a motor vehicle to reach the Waterfall Shelter from the nearest parking spot. Continue reading “$1.8 million OK’d for Lower Cascade paths, with road closure decision on horizon”

Potential affordable housing encore for Kohr hospital building takes another step

The aerial photo of the Kohr Administration Center is from the Pictometry module of Monroe County’s online property lookup system.

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 potential developer is a group represented by Brinshore Development, Bloomington Housing Authority, and Springpoint Architects, Bloomington’s director of economic and sustainable development Alex Crowley told RDC members on Monday. [Added April 22, 2021 at 9:23 a.m. Rottman Collier Architects is the co-architect in the project group.]

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 RDC’s approval to go ahead and draw up a formal arrangement, will put the group in a position to meet this year’s July 26 deadline for an application to the federal low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) program, to help finance the project. Awards through the program are due later in 2021, Crowley said. Continue reading “Potential affordable housing encore for Kohr hospital building takes another step”

Change is the order of the day at Bloomington RDC as Griffin resigns to become deputy mayor

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!”

Screenshot of RDC president Don Griffin at the group’s March 15, 2021 meeting, which was conducted by Zoom video conference.

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.”

Griffin’s resignation was expected because his appointment as deputy mayor, succeeding Mick Renneisen, was announced by mayor John Hamilton’s office nearly two weeks ago, on March 4.

Renneisen announced his retirement effective April 23.

The mayor makes three out of the five appointments to the RDC, including the seat in which Griffin served. The other two spots are appointed by the city council.

On Monday, the one new item of business handled by the board was the fourth and final change order on a nearly $1-million multi-use path project along East Winslow Road and South Henderson Street. The change order amounted to an increase of $15,000 on the construction portion of the project, which was handled by Conexco, Inc. Continue reading “Change is the order of the day at Bloomington RDC as Griffin resigns to become deputy mayor”