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030719-blm-loc-4statefarmsale

A new ice cream store at 403 N. Main St. will make a trip to downtown a little sweeter along with the sale of the State Farm downtown Bloomington office building to a new owner this summer.

BLOOMINGTON — News of the pending sale of State Farm's former headquarters in downtown Bloomington dovetails with a "growth spurt" the city center is experiencing, with 13 businesses that have recently opened or are opening soon.

"Obviously, we miss State Farm and we appreciate it being a part of our history, but downtowns are resilient and we are always moving forward," said Tricia Stiller, the city's downtown development division manager.

State Farm announced Wednesday that it has a buyer for its 13-story, 200,000-square-foot office building that the insurance giant closed in January 2018 and put up for sale several months later. The buyer, who has not been identified, has begun marketing the property for lease as office space to potential tenants.

"I am happy to see that building is again going to be a thriving and contributing part of our downtown," said Stiller. "This comes at a really good time where downtown is experiencing quite a growth spurt right now. This speaks to the value of our city center."

Stiller said the new retail additions include: Flourish Home and Gardens at 103 W. Monroe St.; Say Anything Studio and Premiere Lux Media at 315 N. Main St.; an ice cream parlor at 403 N. Main St.; Rock Soul and Love holistic health and gift store at 424 N. Main St.; Smokehouse Restaurant in the former Pub America space at 602 N. Main St.; and Bloomington Spice Works at 507 N. Center St.

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New businesses in downtown Bloomington, like Flourish Homes and Gardens at 103 E. Monroe, have continued to open despite the closure of State Farm's downtown Bloomington office building.

"Downtown is exploding," said Vicki Tilton, co-owner of Fox & Hounds Day Spa, 200 W. Monroe St. "These are all businesses that have been announced or are opening in the next three or four months."

"I think this State Farm news goes right along with all the other positives going on downtown," she added. "There will be more people working down here to do business in these new shops."

Jamie Mathy said his downtown business, Red Raccoon Games at 309 N. Main St., was less affected by the closure of the State Farm building.

"The game store is more of a destination store, but it was easy to see there were fewer people walking around downtown at lunch hour," said Mathy, an alderman who represents Ward 1 on the City Council.

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He and other downtown business owners greeted news of the building's pending sale with elation.

"We have all been anxiously waiting to see what happens in that building, and this is exactly the opportunity that we were looking for," said Mathy. "The building is in fabulous shape. It definitely is iconic for all of Bloomington. I think it will be a good thing if we can get people in that building and fill it back up."

"Excepting the museum of history, the State Farm building is perhaps downtown’s most iconic historic building," said Russel Francois, an architect with Scharnett Associates Architects LLC, located downtown at 118 W. Washington St.

"We are hopeful that the new owners will continue State Farm’s legacy of preservation-conservation care and that the building will continue to contribute economically, socially and aesthetically to our downtown," he added.

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Butch Thompson pours a glass of beer Thursday, May 24, 2018 at the bar in Reality Bites, 414 N. Main St., downtown Bloomington.

"I hope the sale goes through," he said. "I would like to see offices in there and people down here all day. There's a lot of new stuff coming in, and I'd like to keep it going."


Bloomington-Normal business openings and closings

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

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