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Historic Johnson Creamery smokestack unsafe, owners ordered to repair

Johnson Creamery smokestack

Johnson Creamery smokestack facing north along the B-Line Trail. (Courtesy photo)

The 73-year old Johnson Creamery smokestack in downtown Bloomington is unsafe and city officials are ordering the owner to repair it.

The area around the 140-foot tall smokestack is closed including a portion of the B-Line Trail.

A city news release said an inspection last month determined the smokestack to be ‘potentially dangerous’ and property owners Peerless Capital of Chicago, Illinois were notified to complete repairs within 60 days.

The original Johnson Creamery building was built in 1914. The creamery and iconic smokestack were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. The building was remodeled in 1995 to become the Johnson Creamery Business Center.

Housing and Neighborhood Development Director John Zody said the property was purchased by Peerless Capital in 2019.

“The City itself conducted due diligence on the property in 2017 when reviewing a potential purchase, and learned of significant future maintenance that would be needed to maintain the structural integrity of the smokestack,” Zody said in a statement.

Johnson Creamery apartment rendering
Johnson Creamery apartment rendering (Courtesy photo)

Peerless Capital won approval by the Bloomington Plan Commission to build an apartment complex on the property last October.

The plan will turn a surface parking lot into a five-story building with 60 units and 74 bedrooms; 44 will be studio apartments. The project is scheduled to begin this spring.

Plans to restore the smokestack are required to be reviewed by the Historic Preservation Commission.

The city says Peerless Capital may appeal the order to repair to the Board of Public Works.

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