Parking Lot Acquisitions Open Opportunities For City

Apr 26, 2017

An artist rendering of the Cultural District and the BCPA.
Credit City of Bloomington / Smith Group, JJR

Parking lots in the northeast part of Downtown Bloomington purchased by the city may not remain as parking lots for long. 

"The Frontier lots are critical and they're critical to economic development and frankly, from the stand point of the city, control over the property," said Mayor Tari Renner during Sound Ideas. "We're finding, obviously with the Front 'n' Center building, if you don't have control of the property there are limitations in how you can operate." 

The Front 'n' Center building has been the target of several hotel development proposals. The city does not own the building.

The four parking lots are south of the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts (BCPA) and located at 206 Douglas Street, 509 N. East Street, 209 Douglas Street and 222 E. Market Street. Alderman approved the purchase of the four lots on a 7-1 vote at a cost of $961,000. 

During the Monday evening council meeting, Bloomington Economic Development coordinator Austin Grammer said the lots will alleviate a "parking deficit" for BCPA events, in the short term. In the future the city's ownership of the property could open redevelopment options. Grammer pointed to a number of different past plans for the area.

File photo of Mayor Renner.
Credit Mike Miletich / WGLT

"(The property acquisition) could allow the potential for partnership with private developers on these lots to do somewhat of a mixed use development, coupled with a parking facility to service the BCPA and that private development," said Grammer, who added the possible redevelopment would be sometime in the future.  Renner was a little more specific. 

"In the short term we get parking," said Renner. "I would hope that short term is only about a year or so. And then maybe we send out a request for proposals or request for qualifications to private investors to say 'what might you do with this? We need some parking, we need a parking garage, but what would you put on the first floor?'"

Renner said discussion about the parking lots dates back to when Mayor Steve Stockton was in office. He also said he's been advocating for the purchase of the lots since his first run for mayor in 2009. 

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