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Bloomington To Hire Consultants For Hospital Reuse Recommendations

The City of Bloomington is purchasing four total parcels from IU Health, marked here in blue.

City of Bloomington officials are hiring an outside consulting firm to help decide what do with the current IU Health Bloomington Hospital site. The city will take ownership of the property when the hospital moves to a new location in 2021.

City officials say announcing the purchase so far in advance means they’ll be able to collect a lot of public input.

For starters, the city is bringing back five people who served on a hospital re-utilization committee established by former Mayor Mark Kruzan.

"It's been a long time since we've had an opportunity to re-purpose 24 acres so near the downtown. We want to be open minded about that."

Plus, the city will hire the Urban Land Institute, a company that specializes in helping communities decide how to re-purpose tracts of land. The company will interview 100 Bloomington community members over the course of three days in April.

Take Our Survey: what do you think the city should use the property for?

Deputy Mayor Mick Renneisen says they’ll have a hard time narrowing down all the interested residents.

"There’ll be plenty of more people that will want to comment and be involved, and we’ll have to think about how do we involve those people if they don’t get a chance to be interviewed," he says. "Is there another way that they can participate in the process?"

There’s no set plan for collecting broader public input. Renneisen says there could be a public survey. The Urban Land Institute will ultimately submit a report to the city with recommendations for using the hospital site.

The current plan is for IU Health to demolish the hospital building but leave standing the parking garage and other facilities. Renneisen says that's subject to change over the next few months as officials work out the details.

Renneisen isn't ruling anything out. The 24-acre property is likely too large for any single project, so city officials expect to see a few different developments.

"It's a great opportunity," he says. "It’s been a long time since we’ve had an opportunity to re-purpose 24 acres so near the downtown. We want to be open minded about that.”

Renneisen says the goal is to identify projects the city approves of and then find private developers to complete them, after buying or leasing the land from the city. He says they have no hard deadline, but want to work quickly to establish a plan so there's plenty of time to accept development bids.

Downtown development has been a controversial topic, especially in recent months. Mayor John Hamilton's office has pushed stricter regulation, while the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce says the city already discourages development with a complicated and unpredictable approval process.

Timeline: 

The letter of intent has been approved by the IU Health Board and city administrators. A purchase agreement is in the works and should be ready by mid-February.

That purchase agreement will need to be approved by all parties, plus the city redevelopment commission. That panel is expected to take up the proposal at the end of January or beginning of February.

The land itself will also need to be re-zoned to allow non-medical buildings. The city plan commission will ultimately consider that proposal.

IU Health expects to re-locate to the new hospital site in late 2020 or early 2021.

The City of Bloomington can expect to take ownership of the property in 2021.

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