First phase demolition for Hopewell: Bloomington picks Renascent for $589K job

By the end of summer, all but three of the buildings on a central Bloomington block, near the former IU Health hospital site, are set to be demolished.

It’s the area that has been named the Hopewell neighborhood.

On Tuesday evening, Bloomington’s board of public works, as well as the city’s redevelopment commission (RDC), approved the $588,755 contract with Indianapolis-based Renascent, Inc. for the demolition work.

It’s a separate demolition project from the one already underway on the west end of the former IU Health hospital site. IU Health has to demolish all the structures on the main site, except for the parking garage and the Kohr administration building, before transferring ownership to the city of Bloomington.

It’s part of a $6.5-million real estate deal. In early December last year,  IU Health moved to its new facility on the east side of town, on the SR 45/46 bypass.

The focus of the demolition work approved on Tuesday is Phase 1 East in the city’s master plan for redevelopment of the former hospital site.  It’s the block bounded by 1st and 2nd streets on the north and south, and Morton and Rogers on the east and west. The demolition contract approved on Tuesday involves property already under the city’s control. Continue reading “First phase demolition for Hopewell: Bloomington picks Renascent for $589K job”

3 OKs in 3 days: Bloomington gets needed nods for high-speed internet fiber deal with Meridiam

Bloomington mayor John Hamilton (right) addresses the Bloomington city council on June 15, 2022.

At its Wednesday meeting, Bloomington’s city council took a couple of steps, on 8–1 votes, as a part of a potential deal to get high-speed internet connections built for most of the city.

The pending agreement would be inked between Paris-based Meridiam and Bloomington.

Under the arrangement, Meridiam would construct a fiber-to-the-home open-access network offering symmetric 1-Gigabit service. Meridiam would offer symmetric 250-Megabit service to low-income residents at zero net cost.

The arrangement would add another competitor to Bloomington’s market by giving an as-yet-unnamed internet service provider (ISP) exclusive access to the new network for at least five years. The initial ISP would also have exclusive access to the roughly 17 miles of conduit and fiber—the Bloomington Digital Underground—which has already been constructed by the city.

The agreement has been analyzed by the Indiana Cable & Broadband Association as “unfairly favoring one provider over others,”  which ICBA says conflicts with the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996. ICBA’s legal objections got no mention during deliberations by Bloomington public officials this week.

Wednesday was the third day in a row that three different public bodies took required steps for the deal to go through. All of the votes were unanimous except for those by the city council. Continue reading “3 OKs in 3 days: Bloomington gets needed nods for high-speed internet fiber deal with Meridiam”

Two down, one to go: High-speed internet deal gets OK from Bloomington EDC

On Tuesday, Bloomington’s economic development commission (EDC) helped a potential deal between Paris-based Meridiam and the city of Bloomington take another step forward.

Under the arrangement, Meridiam would construct a fiber-to-the-home open-access network offering symmetric 1-Gigabit service. Meridiam would offer symmetric 250-Megabit service to low-income residents at zero net cost.

On a 4–0 vote, the EDC approved a resolution that among other things green-lighted an  expenditure agreement that reimburses to Meridiam 95 percent of the roughly $10.9 million in personal property taxes that Meridiam will pay over a 20-year period.

The personal property taxes would be paid on the company’s conduit and fiber. The mechanism the city is using to reimburse Meridiam’s taxes is a tax increment finance (TIF) allocation area, not a tax abatement, even if the effect is basically the same.

The TIF area is exactly the physical space where the conduit and fiber is installed, which has an appearance that some have characterized as web-like. That’s what gives rise to the moniker “spider TIF.”

For Tuesday’s decision, the five-member EDC was missing Matt Flaherty. He is the city council’s representative on the EDC. But Flaherty will have a say when the city council considers two related questions on Wednesday.

That’s because a third step for the high-speed internet deal is teed up for Bloomington’s city council at its Wednesday meeting. Continue reading “Two down, one to go: High-speed internet deal gets OK from Bloomington EDC”

One down, two to go: Fiber-to-home deal passes muster with Bloomington plan commission

Bloomington plan commission (June 13, 2022)

A deal between a Paris-based infrastructure company and the city of Bloomington, to construct a fiber-to-the-home open-access network offering symmetric 1-Gigabit service, took a step forward Monday evening.

On a unanimous vote, the city’s plan commission found that an already-approved redevelopment commission (RDC) resolution and its associated economic development plan—on which the Bloomington-Meridiam fiber deal depends—is consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan.

That’s the first of three approvals the city’s administration is hoping to get this week for a tax increment finance (TIF) arrangement, that would see about $10.9 million in personal property taxes reimbursed to Meridiam over a 20-year period. That’s down from the estimated $14.4 million that had been previously negotiated for a 25-year period.

Next up will be an approval from the (economic development commission (EDC)), which the city administration is hoping to get at the EDC’s 4 p.m. Tuesday meeting.

That could be followed by an approval at this Wednesday’s city council meeting.

Last week, the city’s RDC took the first step towards all the approvals necessary when it passed the required declaratory resolution.

On Monday, the administration’s case for conformity with the city’s comprehensive plan was presented to the plan commission by development services manager Jackie Scanlan. Continue reading “One down, two to go: Fiber-to-home deal passes muster with Bloomington plan commission”

Bloomington-Meridiam fiber-to-home internet deal: 3 public bodies, 3 meetings, 3 days

Now pending is a deal between the city of Bloomington and Meridiam, a Paris-based infrastructure company, that would build a fiber-to-the-home network offering symmetric 1-Gigabit service, reaching at least 85-percent of the city.

The image links to a dynamic map. (UG = underground; AE = aerial)

The city describes the deal in terms of a $50 million investment that Meridiam will make. Meridiam has made the arrangement contingent on a kind of “tax rebate” for the company, amounting to $14.4 million over 20 years.

Meridiam says the creation of the wholesale open-access network—after an initial 5-7 year period of exclusive operation by an as-yet-unnamed internet service provider (ISP)—would create about 10 new jobs, with a payroll of about $1.1 million.

Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) got the legal process started last week, when it voted 4-0 to approve a declaratory resolution.

For the deal to go through, three different public bodies will need to give approvals, at three separate meetings, which are set for Monday (plan commission), Tuesday (economic development commission), and Wednesday (city council) of this week.

The final vote, by the RDC, is set for July 5. Continue reading “Bloomington-Meridiam fiber-to-home internet deal: 3 public bodies, 3 meetings, 3 days”

First step for Bloomington-Meridiam internet deal OK’d, as current broadband companies ask: Why?

On Monday, the first step towards a $50 million high-speed internet fiber deal, between Bloomington and the Paris-based infrastructure firm Meridiam, got a 4–0 vote of approval from the city’s redevelopment commission (RDC).

The question in front of the RDC was a resolution that declares an economic development area, designating it as a TIF (tax increment finance) area, and approving an economic development plan.

The idea is to rebate about $14.4 million in personal property tax to Meridiam over the course of 25 20 years. Under the agreement, which is not yet finalized, Meridiam will build and operate a fiber-to-the-home network as an open access platform, which eventually any internet service provider (ISP) can use. That’s after an exclusive five-year period for the initial ISP. Continue reading “First step for Bloomington-Meridiam internet deal OK’d, as current broadband companies ask: Why?”

Tangled web: So-called “spider” TIF for Bloomington high-speed internet deal hits procedural snag

A 2–1 vote by Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) on Tuesday night is now a procedural bump for a $50 million high-speed internet fiber deal between Bloomington and the Paris-based infrastructure firm Meridiam.

Even though two out of three was a majority of RDC members who were present and voting, Indiana state law and Bloomington’s local ordinance are both clear about the majority vote requirement for the RDC: “[T]he concurrence of three (3) commissioners is necessary to authorize any action.”

So the 2–1 vote meant the motion failed.

Bloomington’s five-member RDC was short-handed on Tuesday, because RDC president Cindy Kinnarney could not attend and no replacement for David Walter has yet been named.

Now, the RDC has set another special meeting to consider the question again, with four commissioners present. That meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 6 at 5 p.m., according to assistant city attorney Larry Allen, in an email message sent to The B Square after the meeting. Continue reading “Tangled web: So-called “spider” TIF for Bloomington high-speed internet deal hits procedural snag”

Some details emerge on $14.4M “spider” TIF funding for Meridiam’s high-speed internet in Bloomington

Late last year, a high-speed internet fiber-to-the-home project for Bloomington showed some signs of progress after starting in April 2016.

Existing tax increment finance (TIF) area in Bloomington.

In mid-November last year, Bloomington announced that it had about six weeks earlier signed a letter of intent (LOI) with Meridiam, an international player that builds infrastructure.

The $40-million investment by Meridiam, which was announced in November, grew to $50 million in mid-May, when Bloomington made another announcement about the pending deal. The service is supposed to provide up to 1 gigabit symmetric upload-download speeds to at least 85-percent of Bloomington.

The master development agreement (MDA) is not yet signed. But some aspects of the partnership have been sketched out. The basic idea is that the network will be operated as an open access platform, which eventually any internet service provider (ISP) can use—after an exclusive period for the initial ISP.

Meridiam has requested that Bloomington establish a tax increment finance (TIF) allocation area to support the project. Bloomington officials are calling it a “spider” TIF, because of the web-like appearance that will come from following the path of conduit to be installed by Meridiam.

One of the big unanswered questions prompted by the mid-May announcement was how such a “spider” TIF would actually work.

Some of those details about the TIF district have started to emerge—at a city council work session held on Friday, and at Monday’s meeting of Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC).

One of those details is the estimated benefit that Meridiam will receive from the establishment of the new TIF district—around $14.4 million over the course of 25 years. Continue reading “Some details emerge on $14.4M “spider” TIF funding for Meridiam’s high-speed internet in Bloomington”

Bloomington OKs $400K for engineering, design of planned new technology center

At its regular meeting on Monday, Bloomington’s five-member redevelopment commission approved a $403,082 contract with Axis Architecture for engineering services and design of the planned new technology in the Trades District.

The technology center is a joint project of the city’s economic and sustainable development (ESD) department and the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation. The site is now a vacant lot, north of the old Showers Company building that houses the Monroe County government center, as well as city hall.

It is just south of The Mill, which is a co-working space that has been developed as an adaptive reuse of another old Showers building. The tenants of the planned new technology center could be drawn from companies at The Mill that progress beyond the start-up phase.

An “information session” about the technology center is being hosted at The Mill on March 31. Continue reading “Bloomington OKs $400K for engineering, design of planned new technology center”

Potential buyer passes for now on Showers admin building in Bloomington’s Trades District

The old Showers Company administration building at 10th and Morton will not be purchased by Fine Tune from Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC)—at least not under an agreement inked last year.

An accord approved by the RDC in mid-August of 2021 had set up the prospect for the deal. There was no requirement in the agreement that a purchase be completed.

If the deal had come to fruition, Fine Tune would have purchased the building and parking lot to the north for $400,000, after a period to assess the feasibility of converting the building to serve as its corporate headquarters.

At the start of the Feb. 21 meeting of the five-member RDC, commissioner David Walter got confirmation from Bloomington’s director of economic and sustainable development, Alex Crowley, that Fine Tune had decided not to proceed. Continue reading “Potential buyer passes for now on Showers admin building in Bloomington’s Trades District”