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Sunlight gleams off architectural highlights Jan. 30 at the former Bloomington High School at 510 E. Washington St. Work is ahead of schedule to convert the top floors to affordable house for older tenants.

BLOOMINGTON — The city will spend $20,000 to conduct a national search to find Bloomington's next city manager even though a couple of aldermen think there is a suitable candidate doing the job already.

At a special meeting Monday, the City Council voted 6-2 to hire Northbrook-based GovHR USA LLC to run the search.

In other business, the council approved spending $95,000 to buy vacant property at 404 E. Washington St., adjoining the city-owned former Coachman Motel site, for future redevelopment and set a hearing on a proposed tax increment financing district to spur redevelopment there and at the nearby former Bloomington High School building, on the eastern edge of downtown. 

Steve Rasmussen, then assistant city manager, was named interim city manager Nov. 8 to replace David Hales, who became Joliet's city manager, and has said he would be a candidate for the permanent appointment.

"I think that we have a perfectly good candidate in house right now, and I would prefer to see us move in that direction instead," said Ward 1 Aldermen Jamie Mathy, who, along with Ward 7 Alderman Scott Black voted against the measure.

Normal used the same firm to seek candidates to replace City Manager Mark Peterson, who plans to retire at the end of March. After a national search that yielded 49 applicants, the town chose its own deputy city manager, Pam Reece, for the job.

In other action Monday, the council voted 6-1 to set an April 9 public hearing for creating a TIF district 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.

Ward 5 Alderman Joni Painter voted "no," Ward 4 Alderman Amelia Buragas recused herself and Ward 8 Alderman Diana Hauman was absent.

Iceberg Development Group LLC of LeClaire, Iowa, purchased the 100-year-old former BHS building at 510 E. Washington St. for $400,000 with plans 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.

In a TIF district, increased property tax revenue generated by improvements in the district — the increment — is diverted from taxing bodies into a fund dedicated to redevelopment. 

Iceberg projects its total investment to be $17 million.

Under a TIF redevelopment agreement the council adopted in June, the city would rebate 80 percent of the property tax increment generated by Iceberg's improvements, up to $1.3 million or 11.8 percent of the total project cost, whichever is less.

In a related matter, Mayor Tari Renner cast a tie-breaking vote to approve purchasing the vacant property at 404 E. Washington St. The city staff said the purchase would enlarge the former motel site to an acre, making it more attractive for redevelopment. 

Ward 6 Alderman Karen Schmidt noted that there has not been much progress made on other properties the city has purchased for redevelopment purposes, including the former Electrolux/Mennonite Hospital site on Main Street, the Sugar Creek packing plant for library expansion and a couple of downtown parking lots.

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Bloomington Reporter

Bloomington reporter for The Pantagraph.

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