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Bloomington Plan Commision Approves Bank Plans, Delays Hotel Plans

Old National Bank is one major step closer to moving its downtown Bloomington branch.

On December 8, the Bloomington Plan Commission approved plans for a two-story building on the corner of Kirkwood and Lincoln. Old National plans to vacate its current branch, which is just one block west, and move those operations to the proposed building.

The company developing the project, GMS-Pavilion Properties, has been negotiating with the city for years.

City Planner Jim Roach said the Planning Department is happy with the recent progress.

“It’s been a long time coming, but we believe this building meets all city requirements and there are no parking or residential density issues,” Roach says.

Plans for the building originally included a third story as well as 17 apartments. Over the past year the developer scrapped those elements, making the proposal better comply with the city’s zoning rules. Plan Commission members had few complaints about the current proposal.

But Commission President Jack Baker did have an issue with the brick developers plan to use, saying in order to keep the vibrancy and quirkiness of the street, they should use a more reddish color.

The brick currently proposed for the building is more earth-toned than Baker wants.

Steve Hoffman, from Pavilion Properties, said his company can’t do much to change that part of the plan, because it’s what the bank asked for.

Baker proposed an amendment that would require the developer to work with staff to consider a new color of brick. But that amendment didn’t pass.

The Commission later approved the plans for the entire building unanimously. It still needs approval from the Bloomington Board of Zoning Appeals before construction can happen. By moving into a new building, Old National hopes to clear the way for a new hotel on the site of its current branch.

But there have been complaints about the hotel proposal. The Commission delayed a vote on that plan at the December 8 meeting and won’t take it up again until February.

Some Downtown Bloomington Businesses Open Despite Cold Weather

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Non-emergency county and city offices were closed today, as well as Indiana University, many IU Health Bloomington Hospital programs and all area schools. However, several local businesses had their “open” signs turned on despite the slick conditions and dangerously low temperatures.

Downtown outfitter JL Waters’ “open” sign shined through the frosty windows. Employees Emily Hodapp and Kimberly Webber and their canine pal Ranger were in the store and explained why they were open for business today.

“Out of all the stores, the adventure store should be open… No such thing as bad weather, just bad gear,” they said.

Hodapp, the assistant manager at JL Waters, says to choose fleece and down and synthetic insulation in winter gear, and for days like today, to take into account the temperature difference that occurs due to high winds

“We’ve got a lot of things that are wind-stopping, not just wind-blocking, but wind-stopping,” said Hodapp.

Webber also recommend base layers with synthetic or wool materials. Though inside the store things were lively as the employees took advantage of the slow customer flow to rearrange parts of the store, the downtown square was almost entirely vacant.

“Completely dead, pretty much. No one’s braving it. The roads aren’t that bad if you’ve got 4-wheel drive. I’m not saying ‘get out there and risk your life’ or anything, but go play! It’s so sunny! It’s not that bad.”

For those who were in need of a hot meal, the Scholars Inn Bakehouse and Darn Good Soup were both open and serving customers, though like JL Waters, the slow business meant they would close early today before normal quitting hours. Nels Brunner, the owner of Darn Good Soup, said:

“It’s been pretty slow, really. I thought it would be busier. It’s been busy enough to be worth being open, but nothing to write home about.”

Parking meters in downtown Bloomington will not be enforced until 8am on Wednesday.

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