$1.8 million OK’d for Lower Cascade paths, with road closure decision on horizon

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.

The project is being funded from a mix of tax increment finance (TIF) revenue, “bicentennial” bonds,  and 2016 parks general obligation bonds, according to the RDC resolution approved on Monday.

The current pilot closure of the road through Lower Cascades Park is related geographically to the trail construction and streambank stabilization. On June 22, the three-member board of public works is expected to take a vote on a permanent road closure.

According to 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 road closure affects the distance someone would have to cover without a motor vehicle to reach the Waterfall Shelter from the nearest parking spot. Continue reading “$1.8 million OK’d for Lower Cascade paths, with road closure decision on horizon”

Potential affordable housing encore for Kohr hospital building takes another step

The aerial photo of the Kohr Administration Center is from the Pictometry module of Monroe County’s online property lookup system.

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 potential developer is a group represented by Brinshore Development, Bloomington Housing Authority, and Springpoint Architects, Bloomington’s director of economic and sustainable development Alex Crowley told RDC members on Monday. [Added April 22, 2021 at 9:23 a.m. Rottman Collier Architects is the co-architect in the project group.]

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 RDC’s approval to go ahead and draw up a formal arrangement, will put the group in a position to meet this year’s July 26 deadline for an application to the federal low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) program, to help finance the project. Awards through the program are due later in 2021, Crowley said. Continue reading “Potential affordable housing encore for Kohr hospital building takes another step”

Change is the order of the day at Bloomington RDC as Griffin resigns to become deputy mayor

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!”

Screenshot of RDC president Don Griffin at the group’s March 15, 2021 meeting, which was conducted by Zoom video conference.

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.”

Griffin’s resignation was expected because his appointment as deputy mayor, succeeding Mick Renneisen, was announced by mayor John Hamilton’s office nearly two weeks ago, on March 4.

Renneisen announced his retirement effective April 23.

The mayor makes three out of the five appointments to the RDC, including the seat in which Griffin served. The other two spots are appointed by the city council.

On Monday, the one new item of business handled by the board was the fourth and final change order on a nearly $1-million multi-use path project along East Winslow Road and South Henderson Street. The change order amounted to an increase of $15,000 on the construction portion of the project, which was handled by Conexco, Inc. Continue reading “Change is the order of the day at Bloomington RDC as Griffin resigns to become deputy mayor”

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

Bloomington RDC on path to keep hospital’s Kohr building for now, OKs lease offerings for ground floor of new parking garages at $20/sf minimum

This April 2020 Image is from the Pictometry module of Monroe County’s online property records system.

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.

Assuming Monday’s recommendation translates to final action by the RDC at its Dec. 21 meeting, the Kohr building would be added to the hospital’s parking garage as a structure that IU Health is not required to demolish and remediate as a part of the deal. Continue reading “Bloomington RDC on path to keep hospital’s Kohr building for now, OKs lease offerings for ground floor of new parking garages at $20/sf minimum”

Bloomington redevelopment commission rounds out hospital site with $350K purchase at 2nd & Rogers

This aerial image of the parcel on the southeast corner of 2nd and Rogers streets, dated April 2020, is from the Pictometry module of Monroe County’s online property lookup system.

At its regular Monday meeting, Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) voted unanimously to buy a vacant lot at the southeast corner of Rogers and 2nd streets for not more than $350,000.

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.

That brings the total price tag for the RDC’s hospital redevelopment project to $13 million. Continue reading “Bloomington redevelopment commission rounds out hospital site with $350K purchase at 2nd & Rogers”

A tour of Trades District parking structure: “I don’t wake up every morning wanting to build parking garages.”

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One of the two parking garages currently under construction in downtown Bloomington is close enough to completion that on Tuesday afternoon a dozen city insiders and media types got a tour.

Just north of city hall, the opening of the Trades District garage, with around 380 parking spaces, is on course for late March. But enough of the main elements are in place that it’s already unmistakable as a parking garage.

That contrasts with the replacement facility for the 4th Street deck, which is not due to come online until August of 2021. So it’s still coming out of the ground.

Of the 540 spaces to be constructed in the 4th Street replacement 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.

Leading Tuesday’s tour were Bloomington’s director for economic and sustainable development, Alex Crowley, and Josh Scism, with Core Planning Strategies, the firm that’s managing both parking garage projects.

Scism focused the group’s attention on the structural elements: concrete, cabling, pumps and the like.

Crowley took the chance to review with the group the case for the city’s decision to build the garage, but hedged against any perceived enthusiasm for parking garages generally. “I don’t wake up every morning wanting to build parking garages,” Crowley said. Continue reading “A tour of Trades District parking structure: “I don’t wake up every morning wanting to build parking garages.””

8 local non-profits get total of $250K in CARES Act funding

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.

Sims said HAND is looking to make a second round of CARES Act funding, with a notice to that effect expected in November. Sims said she hopes the rest of the CARES Act funding could be awarded by the end of December. Continue reading “8 local non-profits get total of $250K in CARES Act funding”

Bloomington RDC greenlights parking control equipment for two new parking garages

On Monday night, action by Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) ensured that a contract is in place, with Evens Time, Inc., to provide parking control equipment for the two new parking garages currently under construction.

The view of the 4th Street garage, now under construction and scheduled for completion in August of 2021. The view is to the northwest, across Walnut Street, from the 3rd Street end of the block. Oct. 5, 2020 (Askins/Square Beacon)

One of the garages is a replacement facility for the 4th Street deck, which was determined to have structural issues and was demolished last year. The new garage is due to come online in August of 2021.

The other garage is being built in the Trades District to the west of city hall. It’s closer to completion and is expected to open in March of 2021.

The equipment covered in the roughly $335,000 contract includes barrier arms, magnetic coils, credit card exit terminals, barcode imaging kits and the like—the hardware necessary to admit and release parking patrons into the garages.

Before the RDC voted to approve the contract, RDC member Eric Sandweiss asked how the dollar amount for the contract stacks up against the budgeted amount for the equipment. City controller Jeff Underwood said $200,000 was budgeted for equipment for each garage, which put the contract with Evens Time, Inc. “well underneath” the budgeted figure. Continue reading “Bloomington RDC greenlights parking control equipment for two new parking garages”

Bloomington RDC OKs payment of property taxes connected to real estate deal for convention center expansion

On Monday night, Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) approved the payment of some property taxes, on land it does not (yet) own.

The uncommon circumstance arose from the fact that when the RDC purchased the Bunger & Robertson property on College Avenue last year for $4,995,000, the deal did not include two parcels making up the north part of the parking lot that serves the building.

That portion of the parking lot has different owners. Based on a count using aerial images from the Monroe County GIS database, the two parcels include around 45 parking spaces.

The RDC is still looking to buy the parking lot parcels, so they can be used for the Monroe County convention center expansion project. That’s why the RDC bought the Bunger & Roberston real estate.

The convention center expansion is currently paused due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For now, the RDC is leasing the two parking lot parcels from the owners. The deal approved by the RDC in May includes a contractual agreement that the RDC pay $3,500 a month, for an annual total of $42,000.

But the contract also includes a requirement that the RDC pay the property taxes on the parcels.

It was payment of the property taxes that the RDC approved at its regular Monday night meeting. Continue reading “Bloomington RDC OKs payment of property taxes connected to real estate deal for convention center expansion”