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A city crew works on Front Street at the intersection with Main Street on May 18 in downtown Bloomington. The city is proposing removing the stoplights seen in this image as part of a plan to make Front Street more accessible to pedestrians.

BLOOMINGTON — The city hopes to recover the $250,000 cost of repaving and reconfiguring Front Street from Madison to Center streets by eventually tapping property tax money that would be set aside for redevelopment in an existing downtown tax increment financing district.

The planned street resurfacing and sidewalk improvements on Front in the area of the McLean County Law and Justice Center are part of the 2018 citywide resurfacing contract. 

The project also will include making that portion of Front more pedestrian friendly by removing two traffic signals and bumping out curbs to decrease the street's width at intersections to make it easier for pedestrians to cross.

"This would designate that portion as a redevelopment project so that future TIF (property tax) increment can be used to reimburse the city's capital improvement fund for those improvements because its in the TIF district," said city Communication Manager Nora Dukowitz.

In a TIF district, additional property tax money generated by improvements is set aside to pay for economic development incentives and infrastructure work. Taxing bodies receive only the money they would have collected from the TIF district before any improvements were made.

The City Council is expected to act on the requested designation when it meets at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall.

There has been no new redevelopment in the Downtown Southwest Tax Increment Financing District since was it was created in October 2016 so there is no TIF money to tap yet.

It covers three blocks bounded by Washington Street to the north, Center Street to the east, Front to the south and Lee Street to the west and was intended to promote redevelopment of the Front 'N' Center and Commerce Bank buildings in the 100 block of North Center Street and the former Elks Lodge across Madison Street.

In other action Monday:

• The council will consider establishing a new liquor license allowing retail sale of packaged beer and wine for consumption on or off the premises.

Language for the new license was created at the request of Green Top Grocery to allow customers to purchase alcohol at the store at 921 E. Washington St. and then consume it there during a dinner or special promotion and take the rest of it home.

The store has a package liquor license, allowing it to sell beer and wine, but customers cannot open the products on site.

• The council will consider installing an interactive kiosk featuring Bloomington-Normal's Route 66 history at the northeast corner of Jefferson and Main streets.

City officials said cost would be nominal because the Bloomington-Normal Convention and Visitors Bureau is providing the kiosk, and it would be connected to the city's street light grid.

That location is on a previous Route 66 alignment and near the Route 66 visitors center at the McLean County Museum of History. Officials also hope it would encourage visitors to shop downtown and provide views of other Bloomington landmarks such as the courthouse square and former State Farm Headquarters building.

A similar kiosk has been placed at another Route 66 attraction, the former Sprague's service station, 305 Pine St., Normal 

Contact Maria Nagle at (309) 820-3244. Follow her on Twitter: @Pg_Nagle

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Bloomington Reporter

Bloomington reporter for The Pantagraph.

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