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Downtown Bloomington

Downtown Task Force Wants More Time Before Making Recommendations

Aug 16, 2017
Staff / WGLT

Bloomington's Downtown Task Force Committee wants permission to miss its Aug. 31 deadline to present its initial recommendations to the Bloomington City Council.

Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

As the new Radisson in north Normal opens its doors this month to guests, the hotel will face increasing competition in a Twin City market that may already have more rooms than it needs.

Ralph Weisheit

Dividing Downtown Bloomington into three zoning areas—instead of only one—could increase the area's walkability, leading people to spend more time and maybe money there, according to Bloomington's community development director.

Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

A task force looking for ways to reinvigorate downtown Bloomington is circling a bold idea—closing off a portion of Main Street and making it for pedestrians only.

Staff / WGLT

Some members of Bloomington's Downtown Task Force expressed support Tuesday for installing new parking meters in the central business district, as the committee worked to prioritize suggestions for downtown improvements.

Ward 1 Alderman Jamie Mathy said Bloomington and Normal are the only major cities in Illinois he has seen that do not have parking meters.

Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

Editors note: This article is part of a series of interviews with newly elected council members in Bloomington and Normal. Ward 1 Alderman Jamie Mathy was interviewed May 25. 

A new downtown task force is setting priorities. The group has three more meetings before an initial report is due on Aug. 31. 

Squad car with lights flashing blocking entrance to the 500 block of north Center in downtown Bloomington.
Colleen Reynolds / WGLT

It's been six months since the city of Bloomington came up with a plan to address safety concerns for bar patrons and police officers trying to handle as many as 1,600 people pouring into the streets on busy weekends.  The solution appears to be having the desired effect but so far, it comes with a price tag of $80,000 because police officers used for the additional downtown detail are considered "hire backs," and not part of the regular schedule, therefore they are paid time-and-a-half.

Ralph Weisheit

Editors note: This is the first of a series of interviews with newly elected council members in Bloomington and Normal. 

There are a "ton of details to work out," but a Bloomington Alderman is standing by campaign statements about a shared sales tax agreement between Bloomington and Normal. 

Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

Developers of the Grove subdivision and other community stakeholders are pushing back against the idea the City of Bloomington should not oversize a sewer line for an undeveloped area north of the Grove.

Opposition to the $300,000 project stems from a desire to return to compact development.

Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

Bloomington aldermen will again discuss and eventually vote on a budget amendment to strike a controversial sewer oversizing project on the city's far east side. 

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." 

Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

The walkable downtown of the past isn't an anachronism, it's a future model for economic development.

Supporters speak at rally
Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

An estimated crowd of more than 1,000 people marched with bright pink signs Saturday morning through downtown Bloomington in support of Planned Parenthood and women’s health care.

Bill Waller / Facebook

Tar on a bench and a spate of calls to police complaining about homeless people near businesses in downtown Bloomington last summer focused attention on the issue.

Not a lot has happened publicly since then, but Downtown Bloomington Association Director Tricia Stiller says there has ben an effort to communicate on the issue among stakeholder.

WGLT

Bloomington has been on the right track, even when it has been on the wrong track over the last several decades as it has struggled to preserve and revive its downtown.

That's according to Urban Historian Alan Lessoff of Illinois State University. Lessoff is the fall arts and sciences lecturer Thursday evening at the Bone Student Center.

Staff / WGLT

Interest in converting dilapidated downtown Bloomington buildings into a potential hotel and conference center could be renewed now that the city has bolstered the area as a Tax Increment Financing district. 

Fruin Not Running For Re-election

Oct 24, 2016
Michael Hill / WGLT

Bloomington Alderman Jim Fruin recieved a standing ovation following his announcement that he will retire from representing Ward 9. Fruin made the announcement at Monday's council meeting. He said he'll finish up his term that ends in April.

Debroah Carr Senger

A noted local medium and ghost tour guide has just published a book about the lively dead of the Twin Cities.  Deborah Carr Senger is the author of Haunted Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, just available on Arcadia History Press.

Retro Arcade Bar Could Open In Mid-November

Oct 10, 2016
Kari Sullivan / Flickr

8 Bit Beercade, which currently has a location in Peoria, plans to open in mid-November pending the approval of a liquor license by the Bloomington City Council.

Nina Gordon

The Downtown Bloomington Artists present the second annual Art Scavenger Hunt for grade school children on Friday, Oct. 7 beginning at 5 PM in downtown Bloomington.  As part of the First Friday festivities, the scavenger hunt encourages kids to learn about art in their own community.

Tom Keller / facebook

Bicyclists who participated in the Criterium bicycle race Saturday are at a loss to explain why anyone would place thumb tacks along the race route in downtown Bloomington. The tacks caused flat tires that resulted in an eight-bike pile-up that sent five injured cyclists to the emergency room.

Mayor Tari Renner has asked Bloomington police to investigate.

Staff / WGLT

The Bloomington City Council has agreed to move forward with an October 10 public hearing for a Tax Increment Financing district in downtown. 

Facebook

For the first time, the Bloomington Criterium will allow open alcohol for spectators enjoying the series of bicycle races downtown Saturday, August 27.

"People will get a wristband when they go into our licensed establishments along the race route. It's beer and wine only in plastic cups, and they can come on out and stand on the sidewalk and cheer for their favorite riders," said alderman Karen Schmidt during Sound Ideas.

Paul Sableman / Flickr

At Monday's meeting of the Bloomington City Council, Aldermen will vote on a formal rejection of the downtown hotel proposal brought forward by developer Jeff Giebelhausen.

Bloomington Moving Forward With Downtown Development

Aug 15, 2016
Michael Hill / WGLT

Bloomington will continue taking steps to bring economic development to the downtown area, despite the informal rejection of a proposal to build a hotel there.

Facebook

Epiphany Farms Hospitality Group is reaching goals in year 7 of its 10 year business plan. During  an on-location edition of Sound Ideas at Epiphany on Main, co-owner, founder, chef and farmer Stu Hummel said there was never any question of failure when the farm to fork enterprise was started.

Bloomington Aldermen To Discuss Downtown

Aug 14, 2016
Staff / WGLT

Bloomington Aldermen will meet as a committee to learn more about the hotel proposal that was rejected by city officials last month.

Commonwealth Hotels

The Kentucky-based company which floated a $52 million dollar downtown Bloomington hotel and conference center proposal that was quickly turned down by city officials may still be included in a different project.

Mayor Tari Renner said during Sound Ideas the door hasn't been completely closed on Commonwealth Hotels.

Staff / WGLT

The East Peoria developer who is planning to convert the downtown Bloomington Front 'N Center building into a hotel says he's moving forward regardless of what city officials think of his plan. Jeff Giebelhausen says he's working with owners Merle and Carol Huff to transform the building into a 91 room, Route 66-themed limited service hotel.

Staff / WGLT

City of Bloomington officials are mulling over two new proposals for a downtown hotel, following last month's collapse of a plan to locate an upscale hotel and conference center near the coliseum. Both proposals come from developer Jeff Giebelhausen, who's been working with the city for more than a year to redevelop a dilapidated building and the Commerce Bank facility.

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