Giebelhausen appears

By:  Diane Benjamin

If you missed Jeff’s comments at last Monday’s Bloomington City Council meeting, just hit PLAY below.  He spoke during Public Comment, not on an agenda item.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the proposals for a downtown hotel.  From on-line comments and emails, there is a lot of support for a hotel WITHOUT any City involvement.

Mayor Renner was on WJBC this morning saying just the properties are $4,000,000, I believe that is about what Huff’s owe on them to CEFCU.  It sounds suspicious that Giebelhausen can turn the Front and Center building into a hotel for $3,000,000 and provide parking since he claims the total cost would be $7,000,000.  If he can – he should go for it!

The strengths of his plan are first – NO tax dollars and NO TIF dollars.

Second, he would be rehabbing a historic building.  Tari wants a brand new luxury hotel.  Why would visitors want to stay in a cookie-cutter hotel available anywhere.  Route 66 traffic is looking for nostalgia, wouldn’t a nostalgic hotel yield more guests?

Successful downtown’s aren’t new.  Shoppers, visitors, and travelers aren’t looking for shops and hotels they can find anywhere.  They want unique experiences.  Visit Pontiac for a model.  Re-using the Front and Center building fits that plan.

Downtown Bloomington should play on their strengths instead of leveling history to build ordinary.  The History Museum is a huge asset that is just now being marketed.  Bloomington taxpayers gave them $70,000 this year.  The Museum claims to educate and not be in business to make money.  They depend on grants and a capital campaign for their budget.  Capitalism would yield far greater results.  People will pay for history, Route 66 wouldn’t exist without it.  Again, play to your strengths instead of subsidies.

I’d eliminate the $90,000 a year subsidy to the Downtown Bloomington Association.  Many downtown businesses aren’t members because they don’t need to be.  Evidently they need kicked to help bring downtown back.  Taxpayers don’t need to be paying for it.

Downtown Bloomington can be successful with quaint.  It needs to be a destination, new doesn’t work.  Nobody goes to the Farmer’s Market because it’s in a new building.

If Giebelhausen can create quaint, he can lead other businesses to do the same.

The only question remaining: 

Is he serious?







6 thoughts on “Giebelhausen appears

  1. As one who has traveled a bit, I’d much RATHER stay at a historic building, then a “modern, laid out, one-size fits-all” kind of hotel, and as for a lower cost. HECK YEAH! After people pay for tickets, tee shirts, food & Beverage at the coliseum, parking, etc, they’re going to WANT a cheap play to stay! And IF Jeff does it on his OWN, without tax dollars, then more power to him. We ALREADY furnished the arena.

  2. I would love to see this developed into a historic downtown hotel and not a cookie cutter franchise. It looks to me as if there are a couple possibilities- Giebelhausen is in need of progress on this project (losing option or financial reasons) and is willing to move forward on his own (but then why bother talking to the council at all, he wouldn’t need them). More likely to me is that he is working with Tari on this and making the case that if you won’t give me what I want I will put up a cheap franchise that will take away from your unique historic plan. A form of council blackmail if you ask me. Tari is doing all he can to push that narrative with talk of a fleabag hotel with hourly rates (and all that that insinuates).

  3. The City’s Downtown Strategic Plan, adopted in 2013, encourages making the downtown quaint. If new construction is necessary, it is to mimic the historic buildings. Looking out the window of the upper floor of the McLean County Court House, one can see how many historic buildings have been lost. It is sad.

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