99-year affordable housing deal to build about 60 new apartments at Bloomington’s Switchyard Park entrance


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The April 20, 2020 image was extracted from the Pictometry module of Monroe County’s property lookup system.

If all the financing falls into place, a planned five-story building with up to 60 new apartments and 3,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space will start welcoming new residents to the entrance of Bloomington’s Switchyard Park off Walnut Street sometime in the summer of 2022.

Part of the financial puzzle was solved for the developer, RealAmerica Development, LLC, when Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) approved a $1 purchase agreement for the real estate. The unanimous vote came at the RDC’s regular Monday meeting.

The RDC had bought the property a couple of years ago for $800,000, which was the former location of the Night Moves strip club.

Asked to comment on the disparity between the purchase price and the appraisal the RDC had obtained on the property, city controller Jeff Underwood said it was understood the RDC would not get back the fair market value on the land deal.

The proposal from RealAmerica might not have been the biggest fiscal proposal that the RDC had received through its request for information (RFI), Underwood said. But it had all the other attributes the city was looking for, he said.

What was Bloomington looking for? Affordable housing. For a long time and for a lot of people. Continue reading “99-year affordable housing deal to build about 60 new apartments at Bloomington’s Switchyard Park entrance”

Bonds for first step of Bloomington’s public housing conversion get final OK from city council

At its regular Wednesday meeting, Bloomington’s city council voted unanimously to approve the issuance of up to $11 million in economic development notes to support the renovation of Bloomington’s public housing stock.

The bond issuance approved this week was for rehabbing two of the three Bloomington Housing Authority (BHA) properties—the Walnut Woods and Reverend Butler sites. BHA’s executive director, Amber Skoby, told the council that planning will start this summer for similar work on the third BHA site—the Crestmont Community.

“After that’s done, we won’t have any more public housing in Bloomington,” Skoby said.

Councilmember Steve Volan’s reaction conveyed amazement: “Does that mean you won’t have a job? I don’t understand.” Continue reading “Bonds for first step of Bloomington’s public housing conversion get final OK from city council”

UDO Update: How payment-in-lieu of building affordable housing could still be in the mix

The first two days of the Bloomington city council’s work on amendments to the unified development ordinance update were dominated by two contentious questions.

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Screenshot of extracted transactions for Bloomington’s housing development fund from the city’s online financial portal.

Should duplexes and triplexes should be allowed in core neighborhoods? Should accessory dwelling units should be subject to the conditional use public process?

Both questions related at least indirectly to the issue of the availability and affordability of housing. The council chambers were packed each night.

The following week, the council’s docket started off with another amendment related to the affordability of housing.

Sponsored by councilmember Isabel Piedmont-Smith, Amendment 08 changed the planned unit development (PUD) qualifying standards, by eliminating the option for a developer to donate a sum to the city’s housing development fund, instead of building income-restricted affordable units on site as a part of the project.

PUDs are projects that depart significantly enough from existing zoning standards that they require their own custom zoning, which means that unlike by-right projects, they have to win approval from the city council.

The UDO update builds a 15-percent affordable housing requirement into the qualifying standards for a PUD. So elimination of the payment-in-lieu option means that the only way a PUD could be approved without including affordable units as a part of the project is through waiver of the PUD qualifying standard.

Judged by the smattering of attendees at the following week’s meeting, and the council’s 8–0 vote, the amendment on payment-in-lieu (PIL) for PUDs was not controversial.

But the council’s decision was disappointing to the city’s administration. Responding to a query from The Beacon, Bloomington’s communication director, Yaël Ksander, said, “The City plans to work with Council to suggest they reconsider PIL as a viable option…” Continue reading “UDO Update: How payment-in-lieu of building affordable housing could still be in the mix”

Math Journal: Converting percents to dollars for Housing Development Fund

On Wednesday (July 31, 2019) Bloomington’s city council will consider the first reading of a rezoning request from the Collegiate Development Group to build an 820-bedroom student housing project on North Walnut Street at the site of the current Motel 6.

CDG location map iso Screen Shot 2019-07-29 at 11.01.38 AMOne point likely to be raised is the amount of money CDG has committed to pay into the city’s Housing Development Fund, in connection with the proposed project. It’s a fund that was created by unanimous city council vote on Nov. 16, 2016.

The amount of CDG’s commitment to the Housing Development Fund is not expressed as a fixed dollar amount. The amount depends on a percentage of the number of bedrooms that are built.

Doesn’t CDG know already how bedrooms are in the project? It’s probably fair to say that CDG knows how many bedrooms it would like to build into the project, namely 820. But based on some early reaction from some councilmembers, at their July 19 work session, they might want to see the number of bedrooms reduced in order to approve the re-zoning. Continue reading “Math Journal: Converting percents to dollars for Housing Development Fund”