No formal bids for parking garage ground-floor retail, but econ development director says: “I am confident that the spaces will be appealing.”

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No formal bids were received by the city of Bloomington for the leases of the ground floor space in either of the two parking garages that are now under construction.

That was the anticlimactic news from Monday’s meeting of the city’s redevelopment commission (RDC).

One of the garages is on Fourth Street, to open in August. The other is northwest of city hall in the Trades District, set to open towards the end of March.

The lack of bids is not a setback, according to city’s director of economic and sustainable development Alex Crowley.

Crowley told The Square Beacon after the RDC meeting, “I’m not actually fazed by the lack of bids.”

One reason Crowley is not concerned by the lack of offers is that advertising for bids is a legally required procedure that the RDC has to follow. It was not, as Crowley put it, “a highly visible/marketed listing.”

Crowley continued, “I’m sure we’ll get more interest once we start marketing the spaces.” He added, “I am confident that the spaces will be appealing, especially as things start to settle down from the pandemic.”

At Monday’s RDC meeting, assistant city attorney Larry Allen laid out what can happen next.

The state statute says for the next 30 days, the space can’t be leased for any amount less than what they were offered for, which is $20 per square foot, Allen said. That figure was the average of two appraisals.

But Allen said negotiations could start for a private leasing, and private placement. “So that’s what we’ll begin to do,” Allen said.

Allen told the five-member RDC, “We’ll keep you apprised of how those negotiations continue, and if we receive any offers at any time.”

Crowley told The Square Beacon, “I have received anecdotal interest and I’m sure we’ll get more interest, once we start marketing the spaces.”

Some of the space in the 4th Street garage is already spoken for. It will be home to some of the city’s parking services operations.

At an October 2020 RDC meeting, Crowley told RDC members that more space than previously thought would be used by parking services. “There’s going to be a slightly larger portion of that commercial space that will be used by the city. There’s going to be a parking services footprint,” Crowley said.

At the October 2020 meeting, Crowley said some space for parking services was always contemplated. But he described some additional space for parking services that would be used as “a sort of a shop…to repair meters.”

The Trades District garage retail space offering includes three units of different sizes: 1,942 SF; 1,847 SF; and 1,258 SF.

The Fourth Street garage retail space offering shows a single rectangle in the southeast corner of the building that takes up about 40 percent of the Walnut Street side and half the 3rd Street side.

It was the ground-floor retail space in the Fourth Street garage on which a city of Bloomington eminent domain case foundered last year. The result of the lawsuit was that the garage is now being built on a slightly smaller footprint, that does include the 222 S. Walnut building, but a bit taller than originally planned.

The garage being constructed on 4th Street is a replacement facility. Of the roughly 540 spaces to be constructed in the 4th Street garage, 352 count as replacements for the spaces that were housed in the previous 4th Street structure. It was closed at the end of 2018 due to structural failure, and demolished last year.

The new Trades District garage is supposed to include around 380 parking spaces.

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