Unit Five Schools has helped postpone a decision on a low-income housing development in southwest Bloomington. The city council is asking for a financial impact study.
During the council meeting, a school official, a parent and PTO president, and a volunteer questioned the location of the proposed development south of Highland Park Golf Course on Greenwood Avenue. They raised concerns whether Cedar Ridge Elementary could provide adequate service to more students.
“Our concern is, with the 76% poverty, we are barely keeping up with this. And to add more children to that mix really puts pressure on all of the social services and agencies and people trying to help our kids,” said Jan Meadows, a retired Unit-5 teacher and chairperson of the Promise Council at Cedar Ridge.
During Sound Ideas, Mayor Tari Renner questioned whether a new housing development would increase the share of low income children at Cedar Ridge Elementary as much as predicted. School district attorney Curt Richardson expressed concern that if moderately priced units aren't rented, they may revert to low income units, saying it would further stress the school and, for instance, boost the free and reduced lunch population above the already district high rate at Cedar Ridge.
Speaking on GLT's Sound Ideas, Renner said the project isn't that large -- a total of 54 units with only ten designated for low income.
"I can't imagine that this housing project would increase the figure he cites from 76 to over 80 percent. We're talking about 54 units, 34 of them are market rate housing, 10 of them are for disabled people, who may or may not have children, there only 10 apartments there designated for low income," said Renner.
The city would have to annex land south of Highland Park Golf Course on Greenwood Avenue. City Manager David Hales also told the council that development of single family homes is generally revenue positive for cities, but denser and lower value housing is a net drain on city resources.
Other concerns over the proposed location center on access to transit and its position in a food desert.
In other business, the Bloomington City Council approved spending $34,000 dollars in the first phase of creating a possible TIF District around 510 E Washington. The money was approved for a consultant to conduct a feasibility study and redevelopment plan for the old Bloomington High School. A developer has shown interest in converting the building into low-income senior housing.
Economic Development Coordinator, Austin Grammer, said the developers have made an economic case for public backing of the project.
“The developers proposed over a $17 million investment in the project. Through analysis of Mike Weber, the city’s economic development consultant, we’ve determined there is a gap in the project,” said Grammer
Grammer said the developer would not be getting any more than $1.3 million over the life of the potential Tax Increment Financing District. He also said the City of Bloomington would not pay out of pocket for that money, and it would be up to the developer to generate it from the increased value of the redeveloped area.
The council has also approved the creation of a transportation commission that would allow more citizen input into traffic issues.
Editor's Note: This story was edited to include comments Mayor Renner made during Sound Ideas.
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