101117-blm-loc-1downtown

Bloomington's Downtown Task Force plans to recommend redeveloping the site of this parking deck, seen at the corner of Market and Madison streets, but it is leaving open how it would be used. 

DAVID PROEBER, PANTAGRAPH FILE PHOTO

BLOOMINGTON — Redeveloping the city-owned Market Street parking deck into a multipurpose facility as a catalyst to reinvigorate the downtown over the next three to five years tops the list of recommendations in a draft report from the Downtown Task Force. 

How the city would use the parking deck site is being left open, however, in the document, which likely will come up for a task force vote on Oct. 24. 

"I think the primary catalyst recommendation is likely to focus on that area," said Ward 4 Alderman Amelia Buragas, who heads the task force. "And then the question becomes: If that area, then what project and what partnerships and how do we bring together multiple needs in the downtown area?"

The draft document also suggests continuing to explore rehabilitating the vacant Front 'N' Center building in the 100 block of North Center Street as a downtown hotel/convention center or for other commercial use.

It also calls for encouraging redeveloping downtown surface parking lots to increase retail and housing.

While easy-to-do beautification projects and following up on a parking needs study are being recommended, adding parking meters to on-street parking spaces is not on that list.

The parking deck was pitched at the panel's Sept. 5 meeting as a space for a new library, Connect Transit's bus downtown transfer station and parking.

"Now, it could be a parking garage and a Connect Transit transportation center," said Ward 9 Alderman Kim Bray, a member of the task force, after the meeting. "It could be a parking garage and some residential development. It could be a parking garage and some retail development. 

"Some thought (the library component) was a good idea, but I don't know that there is a groundswell of support there, frankly," added Bray.

"Obviously, (the panel) hasn't voted on anything, so this is very much in draft form," said Buragas. "This is just a list that is likely to end up in that draft report.

"We want to give the council options in case they decide this project doesn't work."

The preliminary recommendations did not include catalyst projects suggested last month by Bray, who suggested moving the bus transfer station to the library's current site at 205 E. Olive St. along with a second city ice rink. The library would remain there as well. 

And that is OK with Bray, who has opposed moving the library to the parking garage site.

"The library is not considered as part of the downtown core, and this task force is focusing on the core," said Bray after the meeting. "So that would be one reason why I didn't speak to it again (on Tuesday)."

At previous task force meetings Bray has objected to moving the library to the parking deck site because the library board and most aldermen have decided to expand the library at its current location. Also, more than $80,000 has been paid to the Farnsworth Group to conduct a feasibility study and provide three conceptual site plans for that site. 

Follow Maria Nagle on Twitter: @pg_nagle

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