Bloomington residents voiced their desires for what should occupy the 4.1 acre block that formerly housed Mennonite Hospital and Electrolux at 800 N. Main Street.
“Something that would be economically viable,” Tim Tilton said.
“Something that is respectful of the historic nature of the neighborhood,” Andy Birkey added.
“A highly collaborative, innovative multifunctional usage,” Angelique Racki said. “If it's set up, right, it could be a perfect location for huge seminars and really big festivals, even.”
The City of Bloomington and Illinois Wesleyan University hosted a public comment Thursday hoping to inspire recently-hired real estate broker Ryan Murphy.
Murphy said he heard a lot of the same sentiments.
"The essence of the feedback I've been receiving is that people want something on the site that's advantageous for the community as a whole,” he said. “Something that's an amenity. Something that people can experience. Something that the community wants to go to.”
While residents voiced a lot about what they would like to see at the site, there is an equally long list of what they don’t want.
“Cookie cutter retail on bottom and residential on top,” Racki said. “I want to see something outside the box that's something that this community really, really is like begging for.”
“I wouldn't care if it was a multi-use building that had retail on the first floor—and even if there was a Subway on there, that's OK. But I don't want a block covered with franchise, restaurants, or gas stations,” Vicki Tilton said.
“We need to utilize the block as productively as possible,” Racki added.
The block sits on the edge of Bloomington's Ward 4 and has been vacant since Electrolux left town in 2015.
City council member Julie Emig said she's heard plenty from her constituents in Ward 4.
“What residents do not want is another car wash, or a fast food chain, or something that is not in keeping with the historic nature of the neighborhood,” she said.
Residents say it would be nice to see downtown's historic culture expand north on Main Street. And as some pointed out, the development plan shouldn't forget its neighbors.
“If we're not respectful of their investment—they've been living in some of those houses for decades,” Tim Tilton said.
“There's business everywhere, and there's money everywhere, but the community base and that feeling of having the support of the community is huge,” Sara Almaraz said.
The broker, Murphy, said his next step is taking the ideas he heard from residents and developing a plan to re-market the space.
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