The Bloomington Redevelopment Commission recently got an update on the proposed schematic design of the 4th Street parking structure, a six-floor, 504-space structure with 9,800 square feet of retail/office space facing Walnut.
Commissioners Don Griffin, Sue Sgambelluri and Eric Sandweiss heard from Josh Scism of CORE Planning Strategies, Bill Riggert of the civil engineering firm BRCJ, and Joe Raper of CSO Architects, the firm hired to design this estimated $18.5 million project. F.A. Wilhelm Construction is the construction manager.
The team described design features including two public restrooms, 50 bike parking spaces, electric vehicle charging stations, public art, solar roof panels, and a drop-off zone for buses, delivery vehicles and rideshares like Uber and Lyft. The design is also oriented for possible future connection to an expanded convention center.
Scism also discussed two issues affecting the site's south end: 1) a parcel on the southeast corner that the city hopes to acquire, currently owned by Juan Carlos Carrasquel of JuanSells.com Realty Co., and 2) underground and overhead utilities – for AT&T and Duke Energy – that need to be moved. The construction budget includes costs related to utility relocations, though the exact amount hasn't been determined.
Carrasquel attended the meeting and spoke to commissioners about the city's efforts to buy his property through eminent domain. On June 7, the city filed a Complaint for Condemnation with the Monroe County Circuit Court, beginning the process to purchase Carrosquel's land through eminent domain.
"I'm the owner of the property to the south, and I'm not a willing seller and I want everybody to know that," Carrasquel told commissioners, calling the public purpose of the city's action "questionable" and "illegitimate."
He didn't take issue with building the garage. He suggested an alternative of building the structure higher and eliminating retail space, allowing the city to have the same number of spaces while letting his LLC– called 222 Hats – keep the property.
City attorney Larry Allen told RDC members that the city's Board of Public Works determined that this project – including the proposed retail space – is for the public good. They made that determination at their April 30, 2019 meeting. The city is working to determine a fair valuation of the property, he said. The in-court proceedings and out-of-court negotiations are happening on parallel paths, he said.
Susan Sandberg, who serves on City Council and the Plan Commission, told the RDC that she's been very impressed by the professionalism of the project team, and stressed that the entire project is for the public benefit.
Allen noted that the Uniform Development Code (UDO) requires retail space in projects like this. The relevant section is within the Overlay Chapter 20.03 for the Downtown Core Overlay – specifically, section 20.03.120 (e) Ground Floor Non-residential uses. An excerpt: "(2) All properties to which this subsection applies shall provide ground floor nonresidential uses along the applicable street frontage. No less than fifty percent (50%) of the total ground floor area shall be used for such nonresidential uses. Enclosed parking garages shall not be counted toward the required nonresidential uses."
During the meeting, Alex Crowley, the city's director of economic and sustainable development, talked about outreach that the city is doing to businesses, including the garage's key tenants. He noted that two businesses – Blockhouse Bar and The Back Door – can only be accessed through the alley along the west side of the garage. The city is working with them to understand their needs, he said. Other outreach will be happening with nearby neighbors and businesses, as well as the general public, Crowley said.
Later in the meeting, the RDC approved an increase to CSO Architect's contract for work at both the 4th Street and Trades District garages, for an amount not to exceed $1,197,950. The item had been added to the RDC's agenda at the start of its meeting.
Funding for these projects is coming from the city's Tax Increment Financing (TIF), which the RDC oversees.
A Technical Review Committee has given input on the design. Chamber President and CEO Erin Predmore serves on that committee. The RDC is not required to approve the design. The project will be presented to the city's Plan Commission at their July 8 meeting, which will also include a public hearing on the design.
Next steps also include submitting requests to the city for variances needed on the site and starting the bid process for demolition. The city is also negotiating a guaranteed maximum price and a base contract for construction, which will determine the bond issuance, according to city controller Jeff Underwood. "The market's good and it looks like it's going to stay good," he told RDC commissioners.
At its next meeting on Monday, July 1, the RDC will be asked to approve a final contract with F.A. Wilhelm Construction for the project's "construction manager as constructor (CMc)." That meeting starts at 5 p.m. at city hall, 401 N. Morton. Click here for the meeting packet.
Watch the RDC's June 17 discussion on CATS here. Read a report by Indiana Public Media here.