Public’s interest in convention center expansion high as city, county councils set to meet Oct. 29

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Aerial view of area around the existing convention center from Monroe County’s GIS system’s  Pictometry tool.

On Sept. 16, members of Bloomington’s common council, Monroe County’s council, the Monroe County’s board of commissioners and the mayor of Bloomington met to discuss how to move ahead with a planned expansion of the county convention center.

That meeting concluded with a consensus that the two councils—city and county—would sort out the next meeting on the topic.

By the end of last week, that meeting was finally set for Oct. 29 at 6:30 p.m. in the Nat U. Hill room of the county courthouse.

The public’s interest in the convention center expansion was evident at Wednesday’s District 3 candidate forum. Residents of the Bell Trace senior living center wanted to hear the thoughts of all the candidates on the expansion.
Continue reading “Public’s interest in convention center expansion high as city, county councils set to meet Oct. 29”

City consultant says food and beverage tax could support $42.7M in bonds for convention center expansion, in the range of covering whole cost

At a meeting held Monday night at the Monroe Convention Center, elected officials from Bloomington and Monroe County governments got an analysis of revenue from the countywide food and beverage tax. It’s a one-percent levy that has been collected since February 2018.

Buzz Krohn, of O.W. Krohn and Associates, told the group that the city’s portion of the food and beverage tax would provide roughly $42.7 million of bonding capacity—on the “preferred” option for bonding.

That’s maybe $1.3 million shy of the $44 million needed for the current project to expand and renovate the convention center.

Another $15 million, for a 500–550 space parking garage, is reckoned by the city to be paid for out of tax increment finance (TIF) money, a different revenue stream from the food and beverage tax. Continue reading “City consultant says food and beverage tax could support $42.7M in bonds for convention center expansion, in the range of covering whole cost”

Twenty elected officials to meet and discuss one topic : Convention center expansion

Twenty elected officials are now scheduled to meet on Monday, Sept. 16, to discuss the expansion of the convention center in downtown Bloomington. The meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. at the existing convention center, on the southwest corner of College Avenue and 3rd Street.

Monroe County commissioners announced the scheduling of the 20-strong gathering at the start of their regular Wednesday morning meeting.

Bloomington’s mayor (1), the city council (9), the Monroe County Council (7) and the Monroe County Board of Commissioners (3) have agreed to come together to talk about how to move the convention center project ahead.

The backdrop to the meeting is the work of a city-county steering committee over several months, which culminated earlier this year, in May. Continue reading “Twenty elected officials to meet and discuss one topic : Convention center expansion”

Convention center update: County Board of Commissioners pitches better collaboration between city and county, suggests formation of capital improvement board

Monroe County should form a capital improvement board to handle the ownership, control and management of an expanded convention center in downtown Bloomington—that was a key point of a memo distributed Wednesday morning by the Monroe County Board of Commissioners to the County Council, Bloomington City Council and the mayor.

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Monroe County Commissioners (from left) Lee Jones, Julie Thomas, Penny Githens.  July 24, 2019 (Dave Askins/Beacon)

The memo was read aloud in parts by each of the three commissioners at the conclusion of their Wednesday morning meeting. The memo concludes with a reference to the “Convention & Civic Center project.” Board of commissioners president Julie Thomas stressed the word ‘civic’ when she read it aloud, and added “underline ‘civic’.”

The memo came less than 24 hours after the county council’s Tuesday evening work session discussion about the idea of a kind of convention center summit involving city and county elected officials.

After the introductory material, which stresses “a spirit of consensus-building” among the four entities, the memo addresses two main topics: how the project will funded and how specific facilities will be configured. Continue reading “Convention center update: County Board of Commissioners pitches better collaboration between city and county, suggests formation of capital improvement board”

County might hope to add convention center summit to Bloomington City Council’s agenda of annual budget, electric scooters, student housing, and parking zones

By late last week, the Bloomington City Council was getting ready to return to its normal meeting routine after a summer hiatus. Councilmembers last met in regular session on June 12; their next regular meeting falls on the last day of July.

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City council activity is now at least a smidgen easier to follow, because the city’s website user interface for public meeting listings got an upgrade a couple of weeks ago. Links to materials like agendas, minutes, and packets, now show standardized text, icons, a neatly stacked layout, and mouseover behavior.

Based on some conversation at a work session last Friday, they’re thinking about how to set up the calendar for at least three topics they’ll be handling soon: a proposed 820-bedroom student housing development on North Walnut at the current Motel 6 site; possible tweaks to a still-pending ordinance that would regulate shared-use electric scooters; and some amendments to the new parking ordinance.

And based on conversation at a work session held by the Monroe County Council on Tuesday evening, Bloomington’s city council could in the next couple months be called on to participate in a four-way meeting about the proposed convention center expansion.

The potential summit-type gathering would include the Monroe County Council, the Monroe County Board of Commissioners, the Bloomington Common Council and Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton. That would cover the legislative, executive, and fiscal components of the city and county government. Continue reading “County might hope to add convention center summit to Bloomington City Council’s agenda of annual budget, electric scooters, student housing, and parking zones”

Bloomington, Monroe County both move on separate land acquisitions as part of planned expansion of convention center

Some important pieces of a downtown development puzzle were slotted into place this week, as the City of Bloomington and Monroe County both made progress on separate real estate deals.

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The red-circled area highlighted on the map shows the area of downtown Bloomington where a an expansion of the Monroe County Convention Center is planned. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

The transactions are expected to factor into a planned expansion of the county’s convention center, located at 3rd Street and College Avenue. Neither deal decides the direction of the expansion—at this point only westward appears to have been ruled out. The city wants to expand north. The county is not committed to that direction.

At the Monroe County Board of Commissioners meeting on Wednesday morning, the three-member board approved a $500,000 deal to purchase a couple of parcels making up the parking lot of the NAPA Auto Parts store at Walnut and 3rd streets.

Two days earlier, the city closed on a nearly $5-million deal to buy most of the block north of the existing convention center. The block is bounded south-to-north by 3rd and 4th streets and east-to-west by College Avenue and the B-Line Trail. Deputy Mayor Mick Renneisen told The Beacon the purchase price was $4,995,000. Continue reading “Bloomington, Monroe County both move on separate land acquisitions as part of planned expansion of convention center”