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Larry MacIntyre
University Communications

Last modified: Thursday, January 31, 2008

Trustees give go-ahead to downtown redevelopment plan in Bloomington

Jan. 31, 2008

RICHMOND, Ind. -- Indiana University trustees today (Jan. 31) approved an enabling resolution that will allow the university to form partnerships with the IU Foundation for redevelopment of certain university-owned parcels.

Trustees also approved a concept plan for the first joint effort that will involve offering up to 12 acres of land on the northwest corner of downtown Bloomington for commercial and residential redevelopment.

The board actions came during its regular business meeting held at the Indiana University East campus.

The Bloomington property, often referred to as the old Showers Furniture site, is to be subdivided into as many as eight parcels and offered for long-term lease to developers interested in building commercial and residential-retail projects. Proceeds from the leases would become a new source of revenue for the university.

J. Terry Clapacs, vice president and chief administrative officer, told trustees that the site's proximity to the downtown area makes it ideal for a wide variety of high-quality commercial and residential projects.

"We are committed to working cooperatively with the city to redevelop the area in a way that will be beneficial for both the city and university," Clapacs said. "This is an opportunity to make a new and thriving neighborhood in the downtown area."

James P. Perin, senior vice president for administration and chief financial officer at the IU Foundation, said, "We welcome the opportunity to explore additional avenues for accomplishing the university's priorities."

Perin added that the Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation, has long partnered with IU in real estate acquisition and development. "We are happy to see what role we can play in partnership with IU as new types of projects come forward," he said.

The property is currently owned by the university and is exempt from property taxation. However, parcels redeveloped for commercial or residential re-use would be returned to the city's property tax roll.

Clapacs noted that Bloomington city officials have already suggested that one of the parcels could be used for relocation of the downtown retail U.S. Postal Service facility. Clapacs said he agrees that the Showers site may well be a prime location for such a facility, and he said the university would work closely with both the city and Postal Service if they decide to proceed in that direction.

The area is located between Bloomington City Hall and 11th Street. Portions of the site are now being used by the Indiana University Press and the central cold storage facility for residence halls food service operations.

Clapacs said these facilities would remain in place for the time being but could eventually be relocated if new and more desirable sites were found. He also said that two structures with historic designations -- the IU Press and the dimensions mill -- would be kept intact.

The university purchased the site several years ago when the furniture factory ceased operations. Over the years, it was used for warehousing and other support operations, but Clapacs said it has never been used to its full potential.