64-unit housing site plan near park OK’d by Bloomington plan commission

A 64-unit affordable housing project to built as a 5-story building on South Walnut Street got its site plan approved by Bloomington’s plan commission on Monday night.

Called Retreat at Switchyard, the project will include 116 total bedrooms.

The 1.5-acre site is at the east entrance of the city’s new 64-acre Switchyard Park, home of the former Night Moves building, which will be demolished.

The project does not need an additional approval by the city council, because it meets the requirements of the city’s unified development ordinance (UDO) and does not require a change to the existing mixed-use corridor zoning.

The building is allowed to exceed the standard four-story limit for the mixed-use corridor zoning district, because it meets the “Tier 2” affordable housing incentives in the UDO.

Continue reading “64-unit housing site plan near park OK’d by Bloomington plan commission”

Bloomington expands private security to 7 more parks across city, including B-Line Trail

Private unarmed security patrols will now be checking a total of eight parks in Bloomington, a collection that extends a bit farther, north-to-south, than the extent of the B-Line Trail.

The $52,500 contract addendum with Marshall Security, to cover the additional parks, was approved by Bloomington’s board of park commissioners at its Tuesday afternoon meeting.

That brings the total amount of the contract with Marshall to $113,000. The money is being drawn from CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act funds.

At their June meeting, park commissioners approved the initial $60,588 contract, which included just Switchyard Park, from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. every day of the week. The reason given for the Switchyard Park security was an increase in after-hours vandalism and substance use, and overnight camping.

For the additional parks and the trail, the additional private security is needed because of “a number of incidents that have occurred lately on both the B-Line trail and in several other…core corridor parks around the downtown area,” according to Tim Street, who’s operations and development division director for Bloomington parks and recreation.

The list of parks to be patrolled by Marshall is now: Switchyard Park, RCA Park, Seminary Park, B-Line Trail, Building Trades Park, Rev Ernest D. Butler Park, Crestmont Park, Miller-Showers Park, and Waldron Hill Buskirk Park. Continue reading “Bloomington expands private security to 7 more parks across city, including B-Line Trail”

Bloomington’s Switchyard Park to get night patrols by private security firm

Two-person unarmed teams from Marshall Security will now be performing patrols in Bloomington’s 65-acre Switchyard Park from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. every day of the week.

A contract with the private security firm was approved by Bloomington’s board of park commissioners at its regular Wednesday meeting.

The hourly rate per security officer is $16.50. The initial contract calls for a $60,588 limit on invoiced expenses from Marshall.

Switchyard Park general manager Hsiung Marler told the four-member board of park commissioners that the security officers from Marshall would be wearing body cameras. They’ll be driving small vehicles suitable for travel on the B-Line Trail and the paths inside the park.

There are some spots inside the park where the Marshall employees will need to get out of the vehicle to make their required rounds, Marler said.

According to parks and recreation staff, the reasons for putting an increased security presence in the park include an increase in after-hours vandalism and substance use, and overnight camping.

Also part of the mix, according to Bloomington’s director of parks and recreation, Paula McDevitt, is the fact that this year is the new park’s first season of full operations. Last year would have counted a partial year anyway, even without the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The issues with increased vandalism “bubbled to the top pretty quickly,” according to McDevitt. Continue reading “Bloomington’s Switchyard Park to get night patrols by private security firm”

Tax abatement for affordable housing project next to new park to be weighed by Bloomington city council

By December 2022, Bloomington is expecting to see completed construction of Retreat at the Switchyard, a new housing project with 48 apartments designated as affordable.

The project is a 64-unit, 5-story building with first-floor retail space at the 1.5- acre site of the former Night Moves building on South Walnut Street, next to the new Switchyard Park.

To help the project along, Bloomington’s city council will be considering a resolution at its regular meeting on Wednesday that will take the required steps to give the project a tax abatement.

The resolution would set up the relevant parcels as an economic revitalization area and would approve a 10-year abatement schedule that would waive a total of $154,370 in taxes.

The first year’s abatement would be 100 percent of the taxes owed. That percent would ratchet down over a decade, so that $175,690 in taxes will have been paid by the end of the abatement period.

Next steps, after Wednesday’s expected council action to adopt the resolution, include a public hearing that’s set for June 16. The June 16 hearing will be followed by a city council vote to confirm, amend, or rescind the resolution adopted on June 2.

Another step, before construction can start in August on Retreat at the Switchyard, is a site plan review by the city plan commission.

Also at Wednesday’s city council meeting, a report will be heard on compliance for eight other tax abatements previously granted by the city council. Continue reading “Tax abatement for affordable housing project next to new park to be weighed by Bloomington city council”

Bloomington pushing contractor to complete Switchyard Park by May 24, OKs $230K for more inspection services by design firm

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Concrete forms ready for a pour at Switchyard Park in Bloomington on Friday, April 10, 2020. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

The planting of perennials and laying of sod at Bloomington’s new Switchyard Park was not expected to be done until spring. So it’s not surprising to see that kind of work in progress over the last few weeks.

But at their Thursday meeting, Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) members were told that more substantial work on Switchyard Park, beyond landscaping, was still not complete.

Examples of still unfinished work include a playground and pathways, according to the city’s operations director for the parks department, Dave Williams. He added that a “fairly sizable punch list” remains for facilities like the pavilion, the splash-pad building, and the police department substation building.

About the substation building, which is already being used by the police department, Williams said, “They are in business. But we are behind schedule.”

So the city now is pushing Weddle Brothers Construction to finish the whole project by May 24. The city is applying pressure with a clause in the construction contract that provides payment of $2,000 per day in liquidated damages to the city for a deadline last year that’s already been missed.

Calculated from Nov. 15 last year to the end of March this year, the damages add up to $274,000. That’s how much Bloomington believes Weddle Brothers Construction owes the city under the damage clause. And the clock continues to tick on that amount, from the city’s point of view. Continue reading “Bloomington pushing contractor to complete Switchyard Park by May 24, OKs $230K for more inspection services by design firm”

Alcohol sales at Switchyard Park OK’d by Bloomington park commissioners

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Looking north towards the main pavilion and stage at Bloomington’s Switchyard Park on Feb. 27, 2020. In early spring, the area around the pavilion, and other parts of the park, will be sodded, according to director of parks and recreation Paula McDevitt. The 4-6 weeks it takes for the sod to take root will make the park ready for 2020’s season of events. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

Local alcohol beverage vendors who want to sell beer and wine at Switchyard Park will have a chance to do that on a trial basis this year.

The park, which was a $34-million project funded with tax increment finance revenue, had its grand opening last November.

At its Tuesday meeting this week, the board of park commissioners approved a proposal from parks and recreation staff to use outside vendors to sell alcohol at a limited number of Switchyard Park events in the coming 2020 season. Continue reading “Alcohol sales at Switchyard Park OK’d by Bloomington park commissioners”