Bloomington Council Approves Land Sale, Rental Assistance Program | WGLT

Bloomington Council Approves Land Sale, Rental Assistance Program

Sep 11, 2018

The city of Bloomington will sell 3 acres of land at Sunnyside Park to the Boys and Girls Club for $1.

Aldermen on Monday unanimously approved the agreement that city staff say has been years in the making.

The club plans to use the land to build a new facility to replace its current clubhouse at 1615 W. Illinois St. Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington-Normal CEO Tony Morstatter said the new facility and renovated park will create greater opportunities for local youth.

“I think it’s amazing to think about the futures that we can provide for our community,” said Morstatter. “We talk about the sustainability of Bloomington, of Normal, and it’s the youth in our community.”

Morstatter said club membership has grown over 400 percent in the last five years, leading the club to start a waiting list for its K through 5 after-school program this year.

Affordable Housing Project

The council also approved an agreement offering financial assistance for tenants of a housing project in the city's new TIF district.

Iceberg Development Group will turn the former Bloomington High School building at 510 E. Washington St. into a mixed-use building including 57 senior apartments.

The city will contribute up to $228,000 to cover rent for residents of four units over 10 years.

Alderman Jamie Mathy cast the lone dissenting vote. Mathy said while he supports the project, he disagrees with the way it's funded.

"In my mind, TIF is a function that we use for economic development, and this, when we enter into any sort of agreement where we’re committing dollars outside of TIF dollars, where we’re committing dollars that are coming out of the general fund for 10 years, that’s where I get uncomfortable," Mathy said.

In a TIF, any new property tax revenues generated by a development are diverted back into the project.

Council members approved the redevelopment agreement for the estimated $17 million project in June 2017. As part of the agreement with Iceberg, the city pledged to rebate 80 percent of property tax revenues generated at the property up to $1.3 million or 11.8 percent of the developer’s investment in the project.

Economic Development Director Austin Grammer said the project fulfills goals laid out in the city’s most recent comprehensive plan.

“One of the neat goals that was put out or recommendations was to identify creative solutions for affordable housing such as home sharing, micro units and tiny homes,” he said. “Well, I think it can be pretty creative to renovate a former school building into affordable housing.”

The program will give priority consideration to Bloomington residents and military veterans.

In other business, the council approved the appointment of Scott Rathbun as finance director. Rathbun has served as interim finance director since May 1 after Patti-Lynn Silva left the position.

Mayor Tari Renner appeared Tuesday on GLT's Sound Ideas to discuss the meeting:

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