Time and Money: Agenda for Monday’s convention center expansion meeting

Cropped Convention Center Screen Shot 2019-09-15 at 7.20.04 PM
Aerial view from the east of Monroe County Convention Center at 3rd Street and College Avenue from the county’s GIS system Pictometry tool.

Circulating late last week among area elected officials and community leaders was an agenda for a 5:30 p.m. Monday meeting.

The topic of the meeting is a planned expansion of the convention center located on the southwest corner of 3rd Street and College Avenue in downtown Bloomington.  It’s a topic with a history that’s a couple decades long, maybe longer.

Monday’s meeting includes 20 elected officials representing four entities: Monroe County’s county council, Bloomington’s city council, Monroe County’s board of commissioners, and the mayor of Bloomington.

A single substantive matter dominates the night’s schedule—funding for the expansion of the convention center. The topic of funding is divided into parts: construction and operations.

A steering committee has guided work on the convention center expansion project up to now. Possibly weighing on some minds during Monday’s session will be the words of a design consultant at a May 23, 2019 meeting of the steering committee: “[F]rom inflation alone, every month that we don’t get started on this project is 333 square feet we’re not going to be able to afford to build.”

For construction funding, the agenda gives 10 minutes to the City of Bloomington’s financial advisor and bond counsel, Barnes & Thornburg and Krohn & Associates, to present various funding options.

For operations funding, Monroe County councilor Cheryl Munson, who has served on the expansion project’s steering committee, will have five minutes to present financial information.

The Food & Beverage Tax Advisory Commission voted on Jan. 22 to recommend approval of up to $4 million in expenditures from the tax for convention center expansion architectural fees. The figure is based on 10 percent of construction costs, which would make for a $40-million project.

A vote of the steering committee on May 23 took a 40,000-square foot expansion off the table, leaving in play an option with 30,000 square feet. Described in the slide deck for that meeting was a total cost of the 30,000 square foot proposal, including a parking garage, that came to around $59 million. Continue reading “Time and Money: Agenda for Monday’s convention center expansion meeting”