The City of Bloomington is working with Illinois Wesleyan University to find a new purpose for the former Mennonite Hospital and Electrolux site.
The City Council on Monday approved a marketing agreement with the university to seek bids to convert the property at 807 N. Main St. into mixed use, first-floor commercial and upper-story residential, while being “sensitive to the historic character” of the nearby Franklin Park neighborhood.
The city’s community development director, Bob Marht, told the council the city hopes to get bids by the end of the year, but he wants a soft deadline to allow the best project to emerge.
“Is this the right fit for this tract?” Mahrt asked. “Is this the right developer we can work with? As opposed to it being just a simple bidding process and then whoever has the best bid or the best project out of the pool gets (the contract).”
Mahrt said the city and IWU have explored various incentives for development should they be necessary, including tax increment financing. In a TIF district, additional property tax revenue that a project generates is turned back into the project for additional development.
“We now recognize that is an option, but it is the option of last resort and there may be other options for economic development incentives that may need to be brought before the city council for consideration upon an active developer wanting to move forward on that,” Mahrt said.
The hospital, which was built in 1918, was demolished in 2015. Electrolux moved out of the building 2015 when its operations were moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.
The City Council also approved new labor agreements with its firefighters and emergency dispatchers.
Members of the International Association of Firefighters Local 49 will get pay raises of 2.25 percent next year and 2.5 percent the following year. Dispatchers get 2 percent raises for each of the next two years and lump-sum payments of between $1,500 and $3,000 every five years.
Alderman also approved the city’s annual contribution to the Bloomington-Normal Convention and Visitors Bureau. The city is paying $475,000 through its share of local hotel-motel taxes, which is the same amount as last year. Normal cut its contribution to the CVB in half this year from $218,500 to $109,250 because of budget constraints.
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