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Bloomington mayor hopes new vacant building ordinance improves city's building stock

Bloomington Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe.

The mayor of Bloomington hopes a beefier ordinance covering vacant properties will improve the building stock in the city.

Mboka Mwilambwe said in a WGLT interview the recently-passed rules increase fines for dilapidated structures and require vacant buildings be listed with the city.

"Frankly, we've had in the past some people who haven't been very good about keeping their properties up to date or as safe as we would like them to be," said Mwilambwe.

Owners of vacant buildings have to list them within 25% of market value.

"What we don't want is for people to, let's say, who do not have a desire to do anything with that property at the time, and to inflate the price and just to let it sit," said the mayor.

Mwilambwe said the listing limit could promote development. The measure also increases fines for dilapidated property.

And Mwilambwe said the city stands ready to work with building owners on improvements, much as it did in the development agreement with the owners of the downtown CII East building that he said is turning out well.

The mayor said he also is hopeful a new 17-building apartment complex on the southeast side of town will prompt other businesses to begin in that area. The city council has approved the 300-apartment unit project by Green Fairways Development near the Links driving range off Ireland Grove Road.

There also are plans to improve the signals and an intersection nearby to handle increased vehicle traffic, said Mwilambwe, adding a traffic study will determine what needs to be done. A study last year showed Bloomington-Normal needs to add nearly 4,500 dwellings to meet workforce needs.

WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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