Trades District gateway art gets OK from Bloomington RDC

No later than the end of 2021, and probably earlier, a new sculpture will appear at the intersection of 10th and Madison streets, as a gateway to the area known as the Trades District.

At its Monday meeting, Bloomington’s five-member redevelopment commission approved the roughly $90,000 contract with Indianapolis firm Ignition Arts, LLC, to fabricate and install the artwork, which was designed by Stefan Reiss.

Reiss, who’s based in Berlin, will be paid a $12,500 artist’s fee, according to Bloomington’s assistant director for the arts Sean Starowitz.

The funds are made available through the city’s Percentage for Art ordinance.  The local law says that one percent of the budget for certain city capital projects has to include an amount that is at least one percent of the city’s contribution to the estimated construction costs. Continue reading “Trades District gateway art gets OK from Bloomington RDC”

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.””

Technology center application to feds for $9.4 million building gets more OKs from RDC, city council committee endorsement comes after grumbling

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A view from the west of Bloomington’s Trades District. The April 2020 image is from the Monroe County online GIS system.

On Monday night, Bloomington city council’s four-member sustainable development committee convened a meeting to consider signing a letter of support for an application by the city to the federal Economic Development Administration (EDA). The city looking to build a technology center in the Trades District, just north of city hall.

A couple of committee members balked at being asked to vote on the question, because they’d received the supporting written materials just three hours earlier. So the letter of support from the committee had to wait for approval until Tuesday afternoon when the committee resumed its recessed meeting from Monday, missing one of its members.

The Tuesday afternoon meeting lasted just six minutes, which included a reading of the letter aloud into the record. One missing instance of the word “of” was noted and corrected before the letter was approved.

The application had received an initial OK in early August from the city’s redevelopment commission (RDC).  The RDC is involved because it owns the land, and the project requires expenditure of about $2 million in tax increment finance (TIF) funds, money that the RDC oversees.

A couple hours before the city council’s committee met on Monday, the RDC amplified the application’s green light, given six weeks ago, with some additional endorsements. The five voting RDC members unanimously endorsed a feasibility study, a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS, pronounced /sεdz/), the funding match, and use of the land.

The RDC owns the real estate and would continue to own it, along with the building, after it is constructed. According to representatives of Axis Architecture + Interiors the construction could be completed, possibly by the end of 2022.

If the EDA were to approve the application, the $2 million in local funds would get a 20-80 federal match to pay for the construction of roughly $9.4-million, 3-story, 31,375 square foot building at Maker Way and Madison Street, north of city hall in downtown Bloomington. The estimated dollar figure includes architectural and engineering design fees, permits, inspections and connection fees.

The federal funds would be available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Continue reading “Technology center application to feds for $9.4 million building gets more OKs from RDC, city council committee endorsement comes after grumbling”

Bloomington hopes to put $2M of local money into $10M “tech accelerator” if feds will make up the difference

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A view from the west of Bloomington’s Trades District. The April 2020 image is from the Monroe County online GIS system.

Bloomington is applying to the federal government for an 80-20 matching grant that would pay for a $10 million “tech accelerator” to be constructed in the Trades District area of downtown Bloomington.

According to Jennifer Pearl, president of the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation, the tech accelerator would “make programming and services available to tech companies in our region, to help them grow and commercialize.”

The physical location in the Trades District would make it a “technology hub,” Pearl said.

Startups and mature tech companies alike would be candidates for using the tech accelerator’s services, Pearl said.

Bloomington’s 20 percent share of the project would be $2 million, drawn from revenue to the city’s consolidated TIF (tax increment finance) district. That’s why the proposal appeared on the Bloomington redevelopment commission’s Monday night agenda. The RDC administers the city’s TIF funds.

The RDC did not approve any expenditures of funds on Monday. They just gave a green light for the grant application to be made. Continue reading “Bloomington hopes to put $2M of local money into $10M “tech accelerator” if feds will make up the difference”

The Kiln Collective: New owner for “oven of Bloomington’s industrial activation”

On Tuesday afternoon, outside the kiln building of the old Showers Brothers Furniture Company, Mike Trotzke was handed ownership to a structure that Mayor John Hamilton moments before had called the “oven of Bloomington’s industrial activation.”

Performing the handover was Bloomington’s redevelopment commission president, Don Griffin. He delivered a laugh line, which achieved its intended effect as he checked the metal on the ring: “Let’s make sure this isn’t my house key!”

The handover of the key fell to Griffin, because the RDC was the owner of the building, which it had purchased from Indiana University a few years ago along with the other real estate that makes up the Trades District. Continue reading “The Kiln Collective: New owner for “oven of Bloomington’s industrial activation””

Sawtooth tech district parking garage with 379 parking spaces gets Bloomington plan commission OK

Based on the city plan commission’s unanimous recommendation Monday night, downtown Bloomington will be getting roughly 250 more parking spaces by the end of 2020.

Winning approval from commissioners was a three-story, 369379-space parking structure that the city will build on a wedge of land in downtown’s technology district. The site is flanked by the B-Line trail on the west and the Showers building, which houses city hall and CFC Business Plaza, on the east. The Beacon counted more than a hundred parking spaces in the surface lot currently at that location.

Last year, on Dec. 13, the city council approved the $10.96 million worth of tax increment revenue bonds from the Bloomington Redevelopment District that will be used to pay for the structure. Continue reading “Sawtooth tech district parking garage with 379 parking spaces gets Bloomington plan commission OK”

Hoffmann to helm plan commission just until end of month, a chance UDO will wrap up by then

For his last vote at a regular meeting of Bloomington’s plan commission, Joe Hoffmann joined in the unanimous decision of the other commissioners Monday night, giving approval to the city’s proposed new three-story, 379-space parking garage to be built just west of city hall.

Hoffmann has served 32 years on the plan commission, which is the city’s land use and development policy body. Mayor John Hamilton used the commission’s agenda slot for reports and communications near the start of the meeting to issue a proclamation declaring Sept. 9, 2019 as Joe Hoffmann Day in Bloomington. Hamilton pegged the number of plan commission meetings Hoffmann had attended at around 380.

Hoffmann will serve through September. That means he still has possibly four more commission meetings to attend—they’re special meetings to conduct hearings and to make a recommendation to the city council on a new, revised unified development ordinance (UDO). And he might get a chance to vote on the final UDO recommendation that’s sent to the city council, if those four meetings wrap up the commission’s work on the UDO. Continue reading “Hoffmann to helm plan commission just until end of month, a chance UDO will wrap up by then”