Work will start later this year on a redesigned 4th St. garage, following approval of required variances by the Bloomington Board of Zoning Appeals. It will be built on the existing footprint with 7 stories, 537 spaces and ground floor commercial space. The estimated completion date is August 2021.
The city also has dropped its appeal in the eminent domain lawsuit it filed to take the JuanSells.com building at the south end of the block.
The variances granted by the BZA at its March 19 meeting included allowing the parking structure’s entrance driveway to be wider than would ordinarily be allowed under city code, and allowing the driveway to be closer to Walnut Street than the code allows.
The downtown garage was closed in late 2018 because of structural flaws. It was subsequently demolished last year.
In a nearly unanimous vote on March 9, the Bloomington Plan Commission has approved a redesigned 4th St. parking structure. It will be built on the existing footprint with 7 stories and 537 spaces. The estimated completion date is August 2021.
Eighteen people spoke during public commentary. Of those, 11 strongly supported the project, including A John Rose, chair of the Chamber Advocacy Council; Ron Walker, immediate past chair of the Chamber board and vice president of operations for CFC Properties; Jim Murphy, president of CFC Properties who also serves on the Chamber Advocacy Council; and Mary Morgan, the Chamber's Director of Advocacy & Public Policy.
The project, which includes a public art component, does not require additional city council approval. Click here to read details of the project from the Plan Commission packet.
Watch the Plan Commission deliberations on CATS here. Or read the B Square Beacon report: "Bloomington plan commission OKs 4th Street replacement parking garage, target completion date now August 2021."
At their quarterly meeting on Jan. 14, Arts Forward Bloomington held a forum focused on transportation issues that affect local arts organizations.
The group heard from Michael Shermis, the City of Bloomington's special projects coordinator, about current transportation-related activities, including a grant from ADA Indiana used to train people who are elderly or with disabilities how to use Uber.
Beth Rosenbarger, the city's planning services manager, discussed transportation issues in the context of the city's comprehensive plan and transportation plan.
The group discussed what kind of incentives might be offered by local arts organizations to encourage patrons to use alternative forms of transportation when coming to events, rather than driving a car. Ideas included offering free concessions for people who walk, bike or take the bus. The possibility of changing three parking spaces in front of the Buskirk-Chumley Theater into a drop-off/pick-up zone was also discussed.
In general, Arts Forward Bloomington wants to make sure the voice of the arts community is heard on a range of issues affecting the health of that sector.
Arts Forward Bloomington will hold its next forum in April, focusing on space needs for arts organizations. The group's steering committee includes Danielle McClelland, former director of the Buskirk-Chumley Theater; Gabe Gloden, Managing Director of Cardinal Stage; Ken Buzzard, President of the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra; Susan Swaney, Artistic Director of Voces Novae and Founder of Sing for Joy! Senior Choir; and Kay Olges, Board President for Windfall Dancers.
Redevelopment of the 24-acre Bloomington Hospital site is taking a step forward with the selection of a master planning team to oversee the project.
Last fall, the City of Bloomington issued a Request for Information (RFI) and received responses from 23 organizations in December. Of those, eight were selected for interviews by a Technical Review Committee on Jan. 16-17. The committee is chaired by former state Senator Vi Simpson and is a subset of the Hospital Re-Use Committee, on which Chamber CEO Erin Predmore serves.
Click here for details about the proposed work of the master planning team. Click here for more info about the redevelopment project.
The fate of the Monroe County Convention Center expansion will likely be decided within the next 48 hours. We need your help in ensuring our elected officials work together to agree on a governance structure so that this important project can move forward.
The Monroe County Council is poised to consider possibly repealing the Food & Beverage Tax, which funds the expansion, if no concrete progress is made by Friday afternoon.
The Chamber supports the creation of a Capital Improvement Board (CIB) as the governance structure for an expanded convention center. We support equal representation between the City of Bloomington and Monroe County, which has been agreed upon by both sides. The county commissioners have begun the process of creating a CIB and could make that final decision at their Dec. 11 meeting.
We are concerned that the palpable bitterness and distrust between the county commissioners and city administration could ultimately derail this project.
Please contact our Bloomington/Monroe County elected representatives to urge all parties to move forward with this project. Click here for contact information. See below for additional background, as well as information about upcoming public meetings where you can speak in person. Questions? Contact Mary Morgan, the Chamber's Director of Advocacy & Public Policy, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-336-6381.
Timeline of Upcoming Meetings
Here's a timeline of upcoming meetings and possible actions. For additional background on recent actions, read this article from the B Square Beacon.
The City of Bloomington is conducting a survey to assess the space needs of organizations and individuals in the Bloomington Entertainment & Arts District (BEAD) .
The survey takes about 3-5 minutes and will close on Nov. 27.
BEAD is a state-designated cultural district that's overseen by the City of Bloomington's Department of Economic & Sustainable Development. It is an area in downtown Bloomington that includes a variety of cultural venues, including the Bloomington Playwrights Project, the Buskirk-Chumley Theater (where the BEAD Info Shop is located), WonderLab Museum, Arts Row and more. Click here to view a walking map of the district.
For more information, go to VisitBEAD.com.
The City of Bloomington is seeking input on how to redevelop the site of the current Bloomington Hospital, a 24-acre area that the city is buying from IU Health.
The committee that's working on this project got an update at an Oct. 28, 2019 meeting. Click here to see the slidedeck from that meeting. Erin Predmore, the Chamber's CEO, serves on the reuse committee.
Per terms of the agreement with IU Health, the city needs to make a decision by Nov. 21 about whether to keep the Kohr Administrative Building and/or the four-story parking garage, which was built in 1989 and has 480 spaces. The main hospital building must be demolished. The site is located at West 2nd and Rogers.
The site will be transferred to the city when the new IU Health Regional Academic Health Center opens in the fall of 2021 along the 45/46 Bypass. Options for residential, retail and office development are being considered.
For additional background about this project, check out the city's IU Health Hospital Redevelopment Site website.
Click here to take a survey about the site redevelopment.
On the third Thursday of each month, Downtown Bloomington Inc. hosts a breakfast meeting that's open to the public. This month, the event drew about two dozen people who gathered at the Bloomington Cooking School.
These meetings primarily consist of updates from everyone who attends. Here's a sampling from the Sept. 19 session (* = Chamber member):
Monroe County* is replacing its downtown canopy of lights on the square with roughly 4,000 LED bulbs. Cassady Electrical Contractors* will be hanging the new strands during the third week of October. The change is estimated to cut electricity costs from $70/day to $15/day.
Downtown employers will be receiving an online survey soon to distribute to their employees as part of the City of Bloomington* Transportation Demand Management (TDM) initiative. The survey will gather information on how employees get to work, parking needs, and incentives they might use for taking alternative transportation, such as public transit.
Malcolm Abrams, publisher of Bloom Magazine* reported that Nov. 1 is the deadline to submit nominations for the monthly magazine's Community Awards, recognizing local business, charity, the arts and diversity. The awards will be presented at a gala in December.
The city's new Switchyard Park will be opening on Nov. 1. The new clubhouse at the Cascades Golf Course will be opening soon as well. It will include rentable space that's available year-round, according to Mary Catherine Carmichael, the city's director of public engagement. She quipped that the previous structure had been "rode hard and put away wet."
Adam Wason, the city's director of public works, reported that "surgical" demolition of the 4th St. garage will begin soon. The next hearing of the eminent domain lawsuit against the city is scheduled for Oct. 7. The city hopes to reach a settlement with Juan Carlos Carrasquel, Wason said. Site plans for the new 4th St. garage won't be reviewed by the Plan Commission until the situation is resolved.
CFC Properties* has launched a new website for Fountain Square. Two additional event spaces are now available for the public. CFC also is looking for a new tenant in the Wicks Building on the square at 116 W. 6th St.
The Bloomington Cooking School* is offering corporate teambuilding sessions for 8-20 people. Groups can come in a prepare a meal together – then eat it! – while getting to know each other and strengthening their business relationships.
The city's tree inventory has been released and "the general impression is not good," according to Julie Roberts, gallery director for the Ivy Tech Waldron Arts Center*, who also serves as president of the city's Utilities Service Board. She urged everyone to be observant of the condition of Bloomington's trees. (Read a report about the tree inventory here.)
The DBI's next breakfast meeting is on Thursday, Oct. 17. Sign up for the group's e-newsletter here.
Mayor John Hamilton and Cortland Carrington III, owner of American Mushroom & Spice Co., were interviewed by Chamber CEO Erin Predmore for the Chamber's 3 Things podcast, sharing their thoughts about the Bloomington Community Farmers Market.
The mayor talked with Erin about steps the city is taking to make the market more secure in the wake of increasing threats to public safety. Those threats came from escalating tensions between supporters of white nationalists and the owners of the Schooner Creek Farm, and counter-protesters who have been advocating for the removal of Schooner Creek Farm for their ties to white supremacist groups. This tension prompted the city to suspend the farmers market for the first two Saturdays in August.
On Tuesday, Aug. 13, Mayor Hamilton announced plans to reopen the market with additional security measures in place. Read his statement here.
Cortland Carrington described his experiences as a vendor and member of the city's Farmers Market Advisory Council. He talked about the impact of this situation on his business, what he's seen at the market in recent months, and reactions from other vendors to this controversy.
Click here to listen to 3 Things on Apple Podcasts – or subscribe to 3 Things on your favorite podcast service.
Have an idea for a future 3 Things topic or guest? Contact Erin at email@example.com.
An uptick in downtown graffiti – on both public and private property – is getting attention from city officials, though in some cases their options for addressing it are limited. It's important to deal with graffiti quickly, as that's the best way to deter additional vandalism.
The City of Bloomington sends out crews to clean off or paint over tags on public property. You can report graffiti by calling the city's Safe and Civil City hotline at 812-355-7777 or using the city's online UReport system.
What if the graffiti is on private property? Then it's the responsibility of the property owner, and you need their permission to take action. Bloomington's Safe and Civil City staff can help with that – contact them at 812-355-7777 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out the city's "How to Organize a Graffiti Clean-Up" site for graffiti-removal tips.
Another useful resource: The City of Milwaukee's detailed description of graffiti-removal techniques. The site gives advice on choosing the correct solvent, deciding whether to paint over the graffiti or wash it off, and dealing with graffiti on different types of surfaces, such as concrete, stone, brick, metal or wood.
Seattle's "Red Wagon Paint Out" is another approach. That city provides tips for preventing graffiti, as well as free materials – delivered in a little red wagon – and training for volunteers to deal with graffiti.
Graffiti is unlawful conduct under Chapter 14.36.050 of the City of Bloomington code. It's a violation of Indiana Code 18.104.22.168, punishable as a Class A misdemeanor if property damage is more than $750 and less than $50,000, or a Level 6 felony if damage is over $50,000.
Director of Advocacy & Public Policy