State Farm Gave Away Downtown Building To Spare Demolition | WGLT

State Farm Gave Away Downtown Building To Spare Demolition

Nov 22, 2019

State Farm essentially gave away its former downtown headquarters to spare a costly demolition after trying to sell the historic building for over a year, according to McLean County records.

Documents WGLT has obtained indicate the 200,000-square-foot building was transferred to UEP Bloomington on Oct. 8. The deed doesn’t list a sale price, but indicates the sale is exempt from the state transfer tax because it was sold for less than $100.

State Farm announced in September that Rockford-based Urban Equity Partners had agreed to buy the building. The developer then announced plans to convert the historic building into luxury apartments.

The insurer announced plans to leave the building in 2018 and in July 2019 said it would demolish the building after a planned sale fell through.

“The downtown Bloomington real estate transaction was a good financial decision for State Farm and helped to preserve the building for the community,” State Farm spokesperson Gina Morss-Fischer said. “We’re pleased we were able to make the sale happen with a buyer who has a history of preserving and improving these types of properties.”

McLean County Supervisor of Assessments Bob Kahman said the sale price could prompt the developer to seek a lower tax assessment. That could significantly cut the tax revenue the property generates, at least temporarily.

"It's an empty building, so I would imagine that a prudent person would think that this thing has to have a diminished value at this point," Kahman said.

The building's market value in recent years has been pegged at about $9 million, putting the property tax assessment at about $3 million annually.

"I don't know that valuing it at $9 million market value at this point is either fair or equitable if indeed it sold for $1," Kahman said.

The property in 2019 has produced $252,000 for local taxing bodies. District 87 took the biggest chunk at about $155,000; the City of Bloomington took in $32,000, McLean County gained about $27,000 and Heartland Community College received about $17,000. The rest of the tax revenue was split among the Bloomington Public Library, the Bloomington-Normal Water Reclamation District, Bloomington Township and the Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority. 

UEP Bloomington did not comment on the sale price of the building.

UEP President Justin Fern has said the company plans to seek federal historic tax credits for a planned $40 million renovation and might also seek incentives from local government.

City of Bloomington Township Assessor Steve Scudder has been unavailable for comment.

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