$29.5 million in bonds OK’d by Bloomington city council, decision on building purchase to come later

Bloomington’s city council voted 8–1 on Wednesday night to approve the issuance of $29.5 million in general revenue bonds, to pay for public safety projects—including the purchase and renovation of the western part of the former Showers Brothers Furniture building that houses city hall.

But the purchase of the western part of the historic Showers building was not included in the city council’s Wednesday approval. That vote is expected on Dec. 21.

The western part of the Showers building is where Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s administration is proposing to construct a replacement for the 3rd Street police station, and a new fire department administrative headquarters.

Also included in the bond proposal is the reconstruction of Fire Station #1 and the remodel of Fire Station #3, among other projects, for around $10.5 million.

The appropriation for the expenditure of $8.75 million for the building purchase, plus about $15 million in renovations, will get a first reading at next Wednesday’s (Dec. 14) meeting of the council, with a final vote expected the following week, on Dec. 21.

Together with the appropriation ordinance, the council will be asked to approve the Bloomington redevelopment commission’s purchase agreement for the Showers building.

Dissenting on the bond issuance vote was city council president Susan Sandberg.

Based on remarks from councilmembers on Wednesday, the Showers building purchase might not get the same level of support as the bond issuance, but seems likely to have the five votes it would need to win approval from the nine-member council. Continue reading “$29.5 million in bonds OK’d by Bloomington city council, decision on building purchase to come later”

Police union speaks against specific plan for location of new police facilities in city hall building

Last Wednesday, president of Bloomington’s police union, Paul Post, led off his public commentary at Bloomington’s city council meeting with a general statement of support for the administration’s plan to upgrade and modernize the city’s police station.

“We fully support mayor [John] Hamilton’s initiative to make the much needed improvements to working conditions at police and fire facilities,” Post said.

Post added, “I’ve worked at the 3rd Street police station now for over 20 years, and I can tell you that everyone would welcome a new and upgraded modern facility.”

However, about the administration’s exact proposal, Post had reached a different conclusion: “We can’t support this specific plan and its associated financial costs.” Continue reading “Police union speaks against specific plan for location of new police facilities in city hall building”

Bloomington to pay $500,000 less for western part of city hall building

In mid-July, Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) gave initial approval to a $9.25 million deal to purchase CFC’s portion of the Showers building—which houses city hall in the eastern part of the building, in addition to CFC offices in the western part.

But that price has now dropped by a half million dollars.

At its regular meeting on Monday, the RDC approved an amendment to the purchase agreement that knocks the price down to $8.75 million. The address of the building is 320 W. 8th St.

Bloomington was able to negotiate a price reduction, according to a memo provided in the RDC’s meeting information packet, “[b]ased on renovation cost estimates produced by the consultants assisting with due diligence.”

During the due diligence phase for the purchase agreement, the city has brought in architects and public safety construction experts, to estimate the cost to convert the space to a police and fire administrative headquarters.

The plan would consolidate in the same building as city hall two additional facilities: the police headquarters on 3rd Street; and the fire administrative headquarters at 4th and Lincoln streets. Continue reading “Bloomington to pay $500,000 less for western part of city hall building”

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”

$9.25M expansion of municipal footprint in Bloomington city hall building gets initial OK

Last Friday, the city of Bloomington announced that its $9.25 million offer to purchase the western part of the former Showers furniture building, had been accepted by CFC Properties. City hall occupies the eastern part of the building.

Friday’s announcement was followed on Monday by an initial approval of the deal by the city’s redevelopment commission.

Monday’s action by the five-member RDC sets the stage for closing the deal no later than Jan. 31 in 2023, deputy mayor Don Griffin said at Monday’s meeting.

Various stages of due diligence are supposed to be completed over the next 60 days, including environmental inspections. That due diligence work is set to start immediately, Griffin said.

During the due diligence period, the city will also bring in architects and public safety construction experts, to estimate the cost to convert the space to a police and fire administrative headquarters, Griffin said. The city hopes to relocate to the Showers building two facilities: the police headquarters on 3rd Street; and the fire administrative headquarters at 4th and Lincoln streets.

Both of those headquarters saw heavy damage during the June 2021 downtown flood. The fire headquarters station is temporarily housed at 4th Street and College Avenue. The idea is to move about 10 administrative fire department positions to the Showers building—not to operate a fire station out of the location, according to Bloomington fire chief Jason Moore.

During Monday’s RDC meeting, some details of the negotiations that led to the provisional deal were revealed, along with a possible reason why it is the RDC that is the purchaser, and not the city of Bloomington’s general government.

Also getting some analysis was a breakdown of the 60,000-square-foot portion of the building that the city would be purchasing, and how that amount of space stacks up against the current police and fire headquarters area. Continue reading “$9.25M expansion of municipal footprint in Bloomington city hall building gets initial OK”