Construction of 7-Line on the east end of the project next to IU campus on June 7, 2021. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)
At its regular meeting on Monday, Bloomington’s redevelopment commission gave funding approvals for infrastructure projects in two different parts of town, which are connected by the B-Line non-motorized trail.
For design work on the redevelopment of the IU Health hospital site, at 2nd and Rogers streets, the RDC approved a $1,048,880 contract with Shrewsberry and Associates, a firm with local offices and corporate headquarters in Indianapolis.
The scope of work in Shrewsberry’s contract is related to the part of the hospital site master plan called “Phase 1 East.”
Shrewsberry’s work includes, among other tasks, a topographic survey of the block bounded by 2nd, Morton, 1st, and Rogers streets. That’s the eastern portion of the site.
After IU Health moves to its new facility on SR 46 towards the end of 2021, Bloomington will take control of the site in a $6.5 million real estate deal.
The soon-to-be-former hospital site sits just to the west of the north-south B-Line non-motorized trail. About a half mile north of the hospital site, the B-Line intersects with 7th Street at the western edge of the 7-Line protected bicycle lane, now under construction.
The orange sections pictured are paved multi-use path/sidewalk and/or boardwalk (an accessible boardwalk goes off the top of the image to the waterfall.
Locator map for proposed road closure.
Section of road proposed for closure.
At its regular Monday meeting, Bloomington’s redevelopment commission approved a $1.8-million contract with Scenic Construction Services, Inc. for work in Lower Cascades Park on the city’s north side.
The project calls for construction of a quarter mile of paved trail from the Sycamore Shelter on the north end of the park to the waterfall parking lot, a new ADA-accessible boardwalk up to the waterfall, and stabilization of 430 feet of streambank.
The work is expected to start in early July, according to Bloomington parks operations director Tim Street. Street filled the position when Dave Williams retired.
Street told The Square Beacon that the hoped-for timing is after the Fourth of July weekend.
According the the city, the conversion of the road to a route just for bicycles and pedestrians is intended to: “expand and integrate with Bloomington’s network of walking and biking trails; provide a safe, accessible destination for recreation and exercise; and to offer bicycle commuters additional options for safer routes.”
Accessibility issues related to the possible road closure also got some discussion from RDC members on Monday.
The grants have been made annually since 1998, and can pay for a range of projects: neighborhood entrance signs and street sign toppers; restoration of historic sidewalks; playground equipment; public art installations; and landscaping, among other things.
But at Monday’s meeting, assistant city attorney Larry Allen told the RDC that the item had been pulled from the agenda for that day, after a question from The Square Beacon about compliance with Indiana’s Open Door Law (ODL).
RDC is expected to have the recommendations from the neighborhood improvement grant council on its meeting agenda two weeks from now.
However, the grant council held a subsequent meeting, when the members deliberated on and decided their recommendations to the RDC. That meeting was not properly noticed under the ODL, according to Allen.
So the remedy will be to post proper notice, re-hold the meeting, and get the recommendations in front of the RDC in two weeks, Allen said. He said he’d confirmed that the delay would not have a negative impact on any of the proposed projects. “There was some built-in time anyway. And so this allows us just to follow the law like we should,” Allen said.
At its regular Monday meeting, Bloomington’s redevelopment commission voted to greenlight the formalization of a deal with a potential affordable housing developer for the Kohr Administration Center building, which is a part of the IU Health hospital on 2nd Street.
The city of Bloomington will be getting control of the Kohr building in the context of a $6.5 million real estate deal, which calls for Bloomington to take over the whole hospital property on 1st and 2nd streets in 2022. That will come after IU Health moves operations in late 2021 to its new facility, which is currently under construction on the SR-46 bypass.
The question of formalizing a Kohr building deal was put to the RDC, because it’s the public entity responsible for approving tax increment financing (TIF) district funds, which are being used to purchase the hospital site from IU Health.
The president of Bloomington’s redevelopment commission, Don Griffin, delivered an expected announcement at the group’s regular Monday night meeting: “At this time, I’d like to tender my resignation from the RDC, folks!”
The announcement came early in the 15-minute meeting. So assistant city attorney Larry Allen checked to make sure Griffin would be presiding over the rest of the day’s agenda. Yes.
“It will be effective at the end of this meeting,” Griffin said. He added, “This will be my last meeting on the RDC, period.”
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.”
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.
At its regular meeting on Monday, Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) kept on a course that would preserve the Kohr Administration Center building as part of the IU Health hospital site at 1st and Rogers streets.
The RDC’s vote came in the context of a $6.5 million real estate deal, which calls for Bloomington to take over the hospital property on 1st and 2nd streets in 2022. That will come after IU Health moves operations in late 2021 to its new facility, which is currently under construction on the SR-46 bypass.
In other business related to the redevelopment of the hospital site, the RDC approved on Monday recommendations for agreements with SB Friedman Development Advisors ($39,410) and CORE Planning Strategies ($117,342) for financial analysis and project management.
The two agreements reflect an alternative to the approach the city had been pursuing for the last 18 months, to strike a decade-or-longer deal with Browning Development from Indianapolis to act as the city’s owner’s representative for future development.
At Monday’s meeting, deputy mayor Mick Renneisen described the end of the romance with Browning this way: “We had been dating for about 18 months, and we decided to see other people. It just wasn’t working out, and we’ve separated amicably.”
Also at its Monday meeting, the RDC approved lease offerings at a minimum of $20 per square foot for the ground floor space in the two parking garages that are currently under construction at 4th Street and in the Trades District.
Economic and sustainable development director Alex Crowley told RDC members the lot was not owned by IU Health, and would not be a part of the $6.5 million deal to transfer the hospital site to the city of Bloomington in 2021. That’s when IU Health moves to its new facility on the SR 45/46 bypass.
The parcel’s owner since 1900 has been C & S, Inc. according to Monroe County’s online property records.
The idea, Crowley said, is to “round out” the block of land the city will be acquiring with the IU Health land deal.
Funding agreements between Bloomington’s HAND (Housing and Neighborhood Development) Department and eight local nonprofits totaling $253,862 were approved by the city’s redevelopment commission on Monday night.
The money is coming from a supplemental allocation of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding, which was made available by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
When its notice of available funding went out in May, HAND said it would consider applications ranging from $5,000 to $50,000. Three of the non-profits that had agreements approved on Monday received the maximum award: Boys & Girls Club, Hoosier Hills Food Bank, and Shalom Community Center (now Beacon).
The city’s May press release said HAND had received $525,656 of supplemental funding. Monday’s agreements fell about $270,000 short of that total.
Asked if HAND was leaving CARES Act money on the table, HAND director Doris Sims said, “We didn’t leave it on the table. We did have more applicants who applied.” She added that the additional applicants had asked for funding that did not meet the requirements under the CARES Act.