BLOOMINGTON — The city believes a new economic development incentive application process will push forward only worthy projects, and officials on Monday said the first project to go through it will only benefit the public.
The City Council unanimously approved five-year tax abatement for Green Building LLC to redevelop 115 E. Monroe St. into apartments above two businesses. If approved by the other taxing bodies — including McLean County and Bloomington District 87 school district — the abatements would save developers a total of about $132,000 over five years.
The abatement would apply only to a portion of the increased property tax revenues the city and other governments expect to receive as a result of the development.
Through a process developed since the hiring of the city’s first economic development coordinator, Justine Robinson, in January 2012, Green Building LLC was required to complete a point-based incentive application. The city also asked the nonprofit National Development Council to analyze financial details and offer recommendations.
City Manager David Hales said the process involved collaboration with other government bodies and provides “a lot more documentation on proving indeed there is a need (for an incentive) and the application has made its case.”
Ward 4 Alderman Judy Stearns represents the area that includes the redevelopment project.
“I think this project meets the standard of ‘what if,’ and I think if not (for the incentive) we would still have the same, if you will, slightly decaying building that would further decay and become more of a detriment than an asset,” she said.
She noted that the abatement would be from tax revenues the city would not receive if not for the redevelopment project.
In other business, the City Council without discussion unanimously approved a $285,355 contract with Clark Dietz Inc., to perform design work for the second phase of a major sewer project and an $825,000 contract with George Gildner Inc. for sidewalk work.
The sewer project is part of an effort to eliminate combined sewer overflows that can occur during heavy rains and pollute rivers and streams.
Hales said the sidewalk contract represents the City Council’s continued emphasis on improving infrastructure. He said the amount to be spent on sidewalks this year is a major increase from the recent past.
Aldermen also approved in an 8-0 vote giving up the public right of way on Beecher Street between Franklin Avenue and East Street so Illinois Wesleyan University can turn it into a pedestrian-only pathway. Ward 6 Alderman Karen Schmidt, an IWU employee, recused herself from the vote.