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”

Bloomington gets final OK from feds for $3.5 million grant towards technology center

In a news release issued Friday afternoon, the city of Bloomington announced that it had received a $3.5-million award from the federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) to help build a technology center in the Trades District.

The location is north of Bloomington’s city hall building in the Trades District, which is a certified technology park.

News about the EDA grant lends a bit of momentum for the Trades District area generally. That’s because the future technology center location is northwest of the Showers administration building. And a deal is now in the works for Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) to sell the administration building to a company called Fine Tune, so that its corporate headquarters can be located there.

The planned location of the technology center is on the southwest corner of Madison Street and Maker Way, diagonally across from The Mill, which is a co-working space. One of the former Showers Brother Furniture buildings was adapted for reuse by The Mill.

The co-applicant for the EDA grant, with the city of Bloomington, was the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC).

BEDC executive director Jen Pearl told The B Square on Friday, that the technology center building would be operated by a non-profit entity, which would coordinate programming and services for local tech companies. Continue reading “Bloomington gets final OK from feds for $3.5 million grant towards technology center”

Parking garage ribbon cutting marks transition, a prelude to hoped-for development

Saturday’s ribbon cutting at Bloomington’s new 350-space parking garage in the Trades District, west and north of the city hall building on Morton Street, was a chance to mark an upcoming transition in city government.

It was also an occasion for local leaders to talk about the positive impact on development that the garage is hoped to have. The surface lot it replaces, just to the west of the city hall building, offered around 100 spaces. So the garage is netting around 250 parking spaces. Continue reading “Parking garage ribbon cutting marks transition, a prelude to hoped-for development”

Lower grant award from feds sends Bloomington back to drawing board for tech center

In December 2020, Bloomington’s economic and sustainability department heard from the federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) that it would likely be receiving a $3.53 million grant to support the construction of a technology center in the Trades District.

The city has been collaborating with the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation on the technology center, which would be built at Maker Way and Madison Street, north of city hall in downtown Bloomington.

But the likely grant award, which was described to the city in a “merits further consideration” letter from the EDA letter dated Dec. 18, fell $2.3 million short of the $5.83 million the city had requested in its grant application submitted in the fall.

That means the city will now be asking the architect on the project, Axis Architecture + Interiors, to redesign a smaller building, to lower the project cost.

To get authorization for the $29,970 in extra architect fees, Bloomington’s director of economic and sustainable development, Alex Crowley appeared before the city’s redevelopment commission (RDC) on Tuesday. The five-member commission unanimously approved the revised project totals.

The proposed technology center is in the RDC’s bailiwick for a couple of reasons. The RDC is contributing $2 million to the project, which will cover the local match for the federal money, through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

If the EDA is satisfied that the city’s resubmitted, downscaled proposal can still achieve the goals of the technology center, it means that the city will be receiving $3.53 million in federal money to go along with its own $2 million investment. Continue reading “Lower grant award from feds sends Bloomington back to drawing board for tech center”

Technology center application to feds for $9.4 million building gets more OKs from RDC, city council committee endorsement comes after grumbling

cropped incubator2 2020-08-03 at 7.03.27 PM
A view from the west of Bloomington’s Trades District. The April 2020 image is from the Monroe County online GIS system.

On Monday night, Bloomington city council’s four-member sustainable development committee convened a meeting to consider signing a letter of support for an application by the city to the federal Economic Development Administration (EDA). The city looking to build a technology center in the Trades District, just north of city hall.

A couple of committee members balked at being asked to vote on the question, because they’d received the supporting written materials just three hours earlier. So the letter of support from the committee had to wait for approval until Tuesday afternoon when the committee resumed its recessed meeting from Monday, missing one of its members.

The Tuesday afternoon meeting lasted just six minutes, which included a reading of the letter aloud into the record. One missing instance of the word “of” was noted and corrected before the letter was approved.

The application had received an initial OK in early August from the city’s redevelopment commission (RDC).  The RDC is involved because it owns the land, and the project requires expenditure of about $2 million in tax increment finance (TIF) funds, money that the RDC oversees.

A couple hours before the city council’s committee met on Monday, the RDC amplified the application’s green light, given six weeks ago, with some additional endorsements. The five voting RDC members unanimously endorsed a feasibility study, a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS, pronounced /sεdz/), the funding match, and use of the land.

The RDC owns the real estate and would continue to own it, along with the building, after it is constructed. According to representatives of Axis Architecture + Interiors the construction could be completed, possibly by the end of 2022.

If the EDA were to approve the application, the $2 million in local funds would get a 20-80 federal match to pay for the construction of roughly $9.4-million, 3-story, 31,375 square foot building at Maker Way and Madison Street, north of city hall in downtown Bloomington. The estimated dollar figure includes architectural and engineering design fees, permits, inspections and connection fees.

The federal funds would be available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Continue reading “Technology center application to feds for $9.4 million building gets more OKs from RDC, city council committee endorsement comes after grumbling”