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Debate On Moving Bloomington’s ‘Burns House’ Heats Up

The argument over whether to designate a Bloomington house as a historic site became a moot point last night as Bloomington residents and city officials saw two very different visions for the city come into conflict. One is the integrity and preservation of historic neighborhoods and the second is the city’s need to meet an increase in Indiana University student housing demands.

The owners of the lot in the 700 block of North Walnut plan to construct apartments marketed for students. Nearby resident Justin Inabinette says he is worried about the effects that will have on his neighborhood.

“If they put these apartments in there; 100 to 200 beds, wow, it’s going to be another dorm,” Inabinette says.

Neighborhood residents have been calling the structure “The Burns House” after the Bloomington Historical Commission researched the building’s history. It belonged to a prominent business man named Roy Burns who lived there in the early 1900’s. City Council member Andy Ruff says deciding whether the structure is historic or not undermines the credibility of the argument.

“It’s to a significant extent not about the house, not about the history of Mr. Burns, not about the architecture of the house but about how this house can be used to reduce the impact of our development of our downtown on that neighborhood,” Ruff says.

Council member Martin Spechler says whether the house is moved or deemed historic will not change the fact that development will occur.

“They just don’t want change, but they have to face change,” Spechler says.

City Officials will vote on the issue next week.

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