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BLOOMINGTON — Creating a tax increment financing district to help with redevelopment of the former Bloomington High School and several other properties near downtown could move forward if the City Council agrees to set a hearing.

"It's great to have strong developer interest already in this newly proposed TIF district, with the proposed redevelopment of the former high school," said Bloomington Economic Development Coordinator Austin Grammer. "City staff is hopeful to attract further development interest to the vacant and underdeveloped properties in this area."

At its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall, the council is slated to vote on setting an April 9 hearing, which is the next step required in the TIF district creation process.

In 2016, Iceberg Development Group LLC of LeClaire, Iowa, purchased the  100-year-old former BHS building at 510 E. Washington St. for $400,000. Iceberg wants to convert the second and third floors into 58 apartments for people 55 and older and lease spaces to commercial and nonprofit users on the first floor.

The city is supporting Iceberg's project via a TIF redevelopment agreement that the council adopted in June.

 St. Louis-based consultant Peckham, Guyton, Albers and Viets (PGAV) to conducted  a feasibility study and draft a redevelopment plan for the proposed 23-year Downtown East Washington Street TIF District. Both are required under state law for establishing a TIF district.

Total investment by Iceberg is projected to be $17 million. The city's TIF assistance would be capped at $1.3 million, or 11.8 percent of the total project cost — whichever is less, said Grammer.

In a TIF district, the increase in property tax revenue generated by improvements in the district is diverted from the taxing bodies into a fund earmarked for economic development within the district.

In this case, the city would rebate 80 percent of property tax increment generated by the developer's improvements, but the amount would not exceed the $1.3 million limit, said Grammer.

Bloomington District 87 officials continue to voice concern about the 23-year life of proposed TIF districts and the financial impact on the school district, said Ward 7 Aldermen Scott Black, who met with them last week. 

In a related matter, Mayor Tari Renner cast a tie-breaking vote to approve purchasing vacant property at 404 E. Washington St., which is adjacent to the city-owned former Coachman Motel site, which is withing the boundaries of the proposed TIF District.

Community Development Department staff recommended the purchase, saying enlarging the former motel site to an acre would make it more attractive for redevelopment in the future. D

Ward 6 Alderman Karen Schmidt said there has not been much progress made on other property the city has purchased for redevelopment purposes including the Downtown Southwest TIF District that includes the vacant Front 'N' Center and Commerce Bank buildings in the 100 block of North Center Street, and the former Elks Lodge, also vacant.

The proposed redevelopment area is bounded by an alley between East Monroe and East Jefferson streets on the north, North Gridley Street on the west, East Front Street on the south and North Evans Street on the east.

Follow Maria Nagle on Twitter: @pg_nagle



Reporter for The Pantagraph.

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