In Bloomington, City Sees 'Tremendous' Interest In Residential Construction
Bloomington’s city manager says there is so much interest in new residential construction right now that he’s had to outsource plan reviews to local architectural firms just to keep up with demand.
New-home construction in Bloomington-Normal has been slow the past several years—but that’s now changing.
“There’s a tremendous amount of interest,” said City Manager Tim Gleason, referring to subdivisions being planned and developers talking to city staff.
New homes are being built at Fox Creek on the southwest side, Gleason said. The east side is also continuing to grow, he said.
“We have opportunities on the fringe of the Bloomington and Normal communities,” Gleason said.
There were 30 building permits issued in just the first four months of 2021 for new single-family detached homes, according to the city. That’s comparable to full-year totals for 2018 and 2019.
Hiring at Rivian, Ferrero, and State Farm is driving that growth, he said.
The heavy workload has swamped current staff. Gleason said he has hired outside architectural firms to help with plan reviews, although the city still has the final stamp of approval. The city may have to hire more staff in the future to keep up.
“It’s a great problem to have,” Gleason said. “We have to make sure the process is one that’s streamlined. No cutting corners, but how do we improve this and check all these boxes so we can give a greenlight to a developer?”
Masks and vaccines
Meanwhile, city employees and residents who are vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer have to wear a mask or socially distance when they visit most city facilities, as of this week.
Supervisors will be able to ask city employees who are not masked if they’re vaccinated. The employee is then required to provide an answer to the city’s HR department, Gleason said.
“We have come this far. We are so close to the finish line of being beyond this pandemic. We’ve done an excellent job of preserving the workforce so we can continue providing services to this community,” Gleason said. “Let’s not fall down now, when we’re this close.”
Residents who visit City Hall or other city facilities won’t be asked if they’re vaccinated.
“We just won’t know. It’s an honor system,” Gleason said. “I didn’t want to put my employees—whether it’s the counter space at the Hub or the foyer at the Police Department—in situation where they become the Mask Police.”