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Bloomington Approves New Commercial Building At 3rd and Washington

On Feb. 10 the Bloomington Plan Commission approved a plan for a new building downtown that would include a convenience store. The four-story building would also contain three apartments and room for additional businesses.

The new structure is planned for the southwest corner of 3rd and Washington streets, on a site that has most recently been the location of a laundromat, CrossTown Cleaners. Doug Bruce, who has done architecture work on the project, said the owner’s idea is for the convenience store to serve people waiting for buses downtown.

The building is owned by Song Kim, who also owned the laundromat. It is just north of the current Bloomington Transit building, and it’s just east of the new Transit building under construction at 3rd and Walnut streets. Commission member Pat Williams asked how deliveries to the convenience store could affect nearby traffic.

The site is smaller than most downtown lots, and Bruce said there would be no room for large trucks to pull in. Williams said she is skeptical about the delivery plan.

Trish Sterling, who owns a commercial building just southeast of the proposed store, said she is also concerned about the building’s effects on traffic and parking. The plan for the four-story building includes seven parking spaces. Sterling said her building’s spaces are already used frequently by other businesses.

A lack of parking in the area caused the failure of a recent project just two blocks east of the proposed store. The owners of the Taste of India restaurant on 4th Street tried to relocate to 314 East 3rd Street, but the commission rejected the plan largely because there wasn’t enough parking. Commission member Chris Smith addressed Sterling’s concerns, but said the city would like to see the site developed and they have limited options.

The commission later voted to approve the building, including six different waivers from the city’s zoning rules.

 

State law changes regarding historic districts in Bloomington

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At a meeting yesterday the Bloomington City Council discussed changing the city’s rules regarding historic districts. Most discussion surrounded a change that city attorney Patty Mulvehill said was required by state law.

Conservation districts are less restrictive to neighborhoods than full historic districts, which require the city’s Historic Preservation Commission to approve all exterior changes to homes. Instead, designating an area as a conservation district is intended to prevent radical changes.

In conservation districts, major events like demolition and new construction require prior review. Several residents of the McDoel Gardens Neighborhood, which is a conservation district, spoke in favor of keeping the city laws as they are. One of those residents was Paul Ash.

“I just wanted to emphasize what an excellent tool this is, it’s not broke, let’s not fix it, let’s just keep going the way we are,” Ash said.

Members of the City Council said they were sympathetic with the residents’ concerns. But member Dorothy Granger said the city didn’t have any other options.

“I agree that what we have is good, and I just want reiterate that the changes we have to make are state changes,” Granger said, “We will work very hard to work very that the people within the conservation districts understand what we have to go through.”

Residents of the city’s three conservation districts will now have to hold a vote to keep their current statuses. Council member Tim Mayer asked Mulvehill to explain the logic behind the state law.

“What I try to explain is that unfortunately what we see in higher level of government is that we see people who have written the law without ever practicing it,” Mulvehill said, “It’s kind of just what we’re stuck with.”

During a straw poll at the end of the meeting, the Council indicated support for the changes in the law. All seven members who were present voted for the change.

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