Decatur rebuilt their downtown! Cost here

By:  Diane Benjamin

Decatur taxpayers are outraged at the money their City Council spent making downtown a walk-able, livable sustainable space.  They built it and NOBODY came.  Sound familiar?

While reading, keep in mind:  The lighting plan for downtown Bloomington is $8.5 Million.  Taxpayers already paid $74, 670 for the study.

Downtown Decatur died decades ago when developers wanted to build a mall downtown.  The City said NO – so they built it in Forsyth instead.  Forsyth used to be smaller than Wapella, now it is the business hub of Decatur without being in Decatur.  All the taxes went to Forsyth too.

Downtown Decatur has Merchant Street – you can see pictures here:

It’s a cute street, but pictures are only of the east side – where shops are.  The other side is mostly buildings that don’t have retail.  There are a few retail shops across the north end of Merchant Street and a few more scattered on other streets.  Big private investment in businesses did not materialize.  The Decatur Celebration is the biggest draw, but it’s only held once a year.

Central Park is a tourist attraction.  It has a fountain and the Transfer House – Decatur’s decades old history icon.  City offices were located there for a while, I’m not sure if they still are. The outside of the building is what draws interest.  Pictures are on the link above.

What did all this cuteness cost?

According to this article in the Decatur newspaper, dated May 8, 2012:

Construction could begin as soon as fall on Central Park, while work on Franklin Street is set for spring 2013. The plans would finish out the city’s three-year,

$14 million streetscape enhancement project.


Central Park Streetscape and Open Space Enhancement 2012-14 Otto Baum Company, Inc. Bid Tab 9/4/2012

Total Cost:  $1,735,022

Main Street Streetscape Enhancement City Project 2010-17 Feutz Contractors, Inc. Bid Tab 2/21/2012

Total Cost:  $4,087,534

Parking Garage B & C Repairs
Addendum 1
Addendum 2
2011-02 Golf Acquisition Group, LLC, d/b/a Golf Construction Bid Tab 2/6/2012

Total cost:  $1,656,176

All the below is NEW spending not included above:

According to this link:

The 2015 budget has $333,927 for Streetscape – Festival Power

On the same link – page 6

Complete the downtown Streetscape $102,000

On the same link – page 28:

Provide a new truck route because trucks hurt their downtown streetscape – Cost over 2 years $1,780,000

Page 29 – More Streetscape spending:  $814,185 over 2 years

Is this your future Bloomington?

Depends on the April elections.


7 thoughts on “Decatur rebuilt their downtown! Cost here

  1. Many of the big box stores such as Pennys, Sears, K-Mart, Radio Shack, etc. are greatly downsizing and some declaring bankruptcy. Others such as Menards, Starbucks, that remain with good sales reports have stalled their expansion of adding many more stores 3-5 years ago. Becoming the anchor for downtown Bloomington revitalization effort that has been going on for 20 years would be a bad investment. It is a pipe dream and those that believe throwing more money at it are either smoking ditched, stand to gain financially, or are not playing with a full deck.


  2. I don’t know when these clowns that run Bloomington, Normal, and any other similar sized, “college-type” town are going to come to the realization that the ONLY businesses that will thrive in downtown areas are bars, coffee shops, and an occasional bookstore. Nothing more.


  3. What is it with the elected types that they all love love love their downtowns? I simply do not understand what drives them to want to commit such money to these decaying areas. Sure you need to keep the buildings from falling down. Sure you want to keep the area safe. But what is the attraction of dumping so much money into downtowns?

    And why do the elected officials want to punish the only businesses that thrive downtown, the bars? They hate the bars, but if the bars were not there, nobody would go downtown.


  4. It’s where they make the most money . . . on concessions at the Coliseum. It is not coincidental that this financial information is being kept from Diane Benjamin’s FOIA requests, but all citizens of Bloomington, residents of Illinois, and any other interested parties. It fairly reeks of fraud that the City and CIAM are forcing litigation. I’d say it’s pretty textbook that anytime people are overly reluctant to share financial info that should be open, that is characteristically typical of someone who behaves as if they have something to hide. And that whole “trade secret” or “unfair access to competitive industry details” because they’re nearest competitor is Peoria and Rogers, Butler, et. al. run the concessions at that joint, too. I could go on, but I won’t except to leave you with this thought: Why don’t I just get a job in the concessions stand department and get you, Diane, the information you want. I can put on a ruse like I’m real dumb (my specialty, btw) and ferret out the deets like a good little mole does. Let’s chat offline.


  5. To be fair downtown Decatur has a few bars and restuarants that are fairly busy in the evening hours.

    However, if you must be downtown between 8 am and 5 pm traffic & parking can be a nightmare.

    The speed limit is 25 MPH threw town. At times this causes traffic to back up from stop light to stop light. After a long day of work it is frustrating to sit in stop and start traffic.
    Another frustrating issue is the new diagional parking. There are two one way streets, with two lanes, one into town, one out of town.

    This means circling the block to find street parking if the parking lots are filled. Also it means dodging cars, constantly stopping in that 25 MPH zone to avoid accidents from people backing out into traffic from the diagional.

    To make matters worse, if you are parked in a diagional parking space if there is a vehicle parked next to you, you cannot see clearly to back out into on coming traffic!

    If you do have to be downtown for business or shopping you have a 2-3 hour time limit so you must be mindful of the time to avoid a parking ticket. The Meter Police is very efficient.

    Between the parking, limited shopping, parking tickets as well as the traffic headaches during business hours many people prefer to drive to Hickory Point Mall in Forsyth. It may be a little farther for some but they say it’s worth it.

    I am no city manager but its difficult to see how the Decatur tax payer will ever recoop all those tax dollars spent on this ‘beautification’ of downtown. But hey it is sustainable right?

    Decatur needs JOBS! Real jobs for the citizens of Decatur! In case you haven’t heard Decatur has the second worst economy in the USA.

    Governor Rauner says he’s going to shake up Springfield. Lets see if he can shake some jobs down Decatur way before the city spends the tax payers into become another Detroit.


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