Mayor Tari Renner of Bloomington said there are a lot of potential re-uses for the State Farm Fire building in the downtown area, including a new City Hall.
Renner said that's far from a polished idea, but it's one of the things surfacing as local leaders try to envision what's next for the 89-year-old landmark structure.
"The City Hall that we currently have looks like it was constructed during the era of 'Mad Men,' and it was. Obviously the Town of Normal has had two new city halls since, and the main need we have is more space," said Renner.
State Farm is vacating its original corporate headquarters because its workplace methods demand open collaborative spaces. Renner said the lack of that in the downtown building does not necessarily make it unsuitable for a City Hall or for other companies that have different processes. He said any idea that comes forward will require a lot of study.
"There are any number of possibilities in terms of office space or light retail. Anything that was thrown out on the table. These are just possibilities," said Renner.
He noted the large size of the landmark could mean the new purpose would be a public-private partnership.
Renner said State Farm executives themselves aren't sure what the company wants to do with the building it is vacating after nearly 90 years.
In some ways, Renner says, the vacancy complicates efforts to improve the downtown, in others it is freeing.
Renner said the uncertainty surrounding the State Farm building and its future heightens the importance of next Tuesday's meeting to discuss a potential catalyst project involving Connect Transit and the library.
Renner said whatever happens it would be nice to keep the State Farm sign on the downtown building for the sense of history it brings to the area.
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