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In this Sept. 28, 2016, file photo, a crewman for Kirk Recycling and Demolition does final grading work on the former site of the Mennonite Hospital building at Main and Walnut streets in Bloomington.

STEVE SMEDLEY, THE PANTAGRAPH

BLOOMINGTON — A consultant will draft a redevelopment plan for the proposed  tax increment financing district north of downtown Bloomington that could include two city-owned properties. 

The City Council on Monday voted 5-1 to authorize a $17,500 payment to St. Louis-based Peckham, Guyton, Albers and Viets (PGAV), for work on the proposed North Main Street/Chestnut Street TIF district. A TIF district diverts increased property tax revenue generated by improvements in the district into a dedicated fund to pay for redevelopment costs in the district.

In conducting a previous eligibility study that the state requires for the creation of a TIF district, PGAV found the area qualifies for the economic redevelopment tool because of blighted conditions and buildings that need to be conserved in the proposed area.

Ward 1 Alderman Kevin Lower, who cast the sole dissenting vote, said the site of the demolished former Mennonite Hospital/Electrolux headquarters at 807 N. Main St. qualifies, but he questioned the need for a TIF district.

"I don't think most of our citizens are willing to commit tax dollars, which indirectly is exactly what we're doing, if we understand that this likely would develop on its own without government intervention," he said.

Initially, the proposed TIF district on the north side of Chestnut Street along North Main Street included the city-owned Electrolux site, three adjacent parcels owned by Illinois Wesleyan University, and the former Quinn's Shell service station  802 N. Main St.

PGAV and the city staff recommended adding the city-owned Creativity Center, 107 E. Chestnut St.; the Burr House Bed & Breakfast, 210 E. Chestnut St.; and Taqueria El Porton Restaurant, 901 N. Main St.

If approved, the  TIF district could provide a redevelopment tool to assist private developers in the acquisition or renovation of those sites.

In 2011, the Creativity Center, a former medical office building, was slated for $5.2 million in renovations, to be paid for with donations and grants. Nearly $1 million in private money has been raised toward the goal. 

In October, the council passed a resolution that does not call for any city money going into renovation of the facility, but it does obligate the city to take on a maintenance role.

Mayor Tari Renner said the projects would not involve the city giving out any money it currently receives. 

Ward 6 Alderman Karen Schmidt recused herself from voting because she is employed as IWU's head librarian. Renner, an IWU political science professor, did not recuse himself because as mayor he only votes in the event of a tie. 

Once the proposed redevelopment plan is completed, the council will vote on whether to accept it. If it does, it then will establish dates for a public hearing and for the meeting of a joint review board consisting of the five taxing authorities in the proposed  area to review and vote on whether to confirm that the consultant's analysis was done appropriately and conformed with state law.

In April, the council could consider adopting the three ordinances that would create the TIF district.

The council also approved making applications to the Bloomington-Normal Area Economic Development Council to use the local One Voice lobbying effort in Washington, D.C., to seek federal money for two major road projects: a Hamilton Road extension from Bunn Street to Commerce Parkway; and widening and upgrading Main Street/U.S. Business 51 between Olive Street at the southern edge of downtown Bloomington and College Avenue in Normal.

Lower cast the lone dissenting vote related to the Main Street portion because he believes the project should be limited to just repairing the pavement and not widening the street.

Follow Maria Nagle on Twitter: @pg_nagle

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