Who destroyed downtown?

By:  Diane Benjamin

According to Wikipedia:

Back in 1967 virtually nothing existed where Eastland Mall is today.  Locals tell me the City Council cheered the new mall without understanding moving anchor stores from downtown would result in today’s conditions.

How many employees did the Pantagraph formerly have downtown?  They recently created another empty large building because market conditions dictated not printing the paper locally anymore – thus they didn’t need to huge building.  Does the Pantagraph realize THEY contributed to downtown’s demise by decreasing the foot traffic downtown?  State Farm also responded to market conditions, private companies do that to stay in business.

The Pantagraph needs to stop the stories and editorials urging the Council to do something, unless they are going to buy their building back and start printing locally again.  State Farm isn’t moving back.  Nothing is going to fix downtown if market conditions don’t warrant the investment.

If a boutique hotel was needed downtown, one would already exist.  The Council turned down two proposals because they didn’t make economic sense.

Drive into downtown from the south.  The CII East building is an eyesore, look west and there is a massive jail and then the Government Center.  To the right is Bloomington City Hall complete with a fountain.  The point is government spending on itself is very visible while private investment isn’t apparent.  Is it obvious yet that State Farm is empty?  Instead of considering a Welcoming Ordinance for illegals in June, the Council should do a Welcoming Ordinance for businesses!  Make sure it puts an end to “Right Fit” because history proves Bloomington’s “Right Fit” doesn’t work.

Tonight the Council will discuss TIF districts.  Below if the FINAL TIF report from the last Downtown TIF:


The report is dated 2015.  The TIF only raised property values by $15 Million.  How much of that has now disappeared?  With less foot traffic downtown, values will decrease.  It sure looks like the TIF needed tax money – $23,500,000.  I’ve heard members of the Council claim this TIF was a great success.  I’ve heard one say property values went up $30,000,000!  Not according to the reports.

California initially banned TIFS, but now they have re-worked the law allowing them.  This is from the League of California Cities who helped get TIF’s back:   https://www.cacities.org/Policy-Advocacy/Hot-Issues/New-Tax-Increment-Tools

Schools will get their share of any property tax increases instead of having to wait decades.  If Illinois changed the rules, Unit 5 and District 87 wouldn’t have to worry about not sharing in gains.

Local governments in California will have a lot less money to play with.  Less money will be available for infrastructure improvements, and more importantly, much less money will be available to entice developers to do projects the market can’t support.  Is that first floor of 1 Normal Circle still empty?

Government fails to understand market conditions dictate development.  Creating FAKE market conditions because government has a vision will always fail.  Since the Council believes every word they are told, they continue to approve schemes claiming greatness.  I wonder they can explain buying the North Main property for $1.4 million and letting it just sit there collecting no tax money.


The minutes from this purchase prove some of the current Council think they created economic development.  Meanwhile, the property sits empty two years later.  Kevin Lower and Jim Fruin were the only NO votes.  Both are no longer on the Council.

The Bloomington and Normal Councils will never see the fallacy of their actions.   Free market economics doesn’t exist in their world.

Both get by with wasting your money because they can.  The Pantagraph won’t report the truth, the rest of the media doesn’t bother looking for it.


10 thoughts on “Who destroyed downtown?

  1. There is no mention of the cost to establish TIF Districts…feability study, legal fees and what-not. Just to establish a District could cost up to $1M.

  2. Pantagraph, let’s present all of the facts, please. The Empire Street TIF extends from Veterans Parkway to Towanda Ave, and includes the H.S./Jr.H.S. campus. I believe Towanda Plaza and the Post Office are included as well. That is an enormous amount of property. Very little redevelopment has occurred since Home Goods moved in. The little hotel on IIA Drive has asked for an extension to their agreement for redevelopment. The property taxes for the owners of that defined area will stay at the current rate while everyone else’s will increase. The school campus doesn’t generate property taxes.
    There is no planning, per se, just land control.

  3. Yup,
    Eastland Mall was the beginning of the MASSIVE development that became the east side!
    Eastland Mall was the catalyst of a vibrant downtown becoming history.

    Hey Tari! Hey Council!
    Downtown is not coming back in your lifetime!!!
    Quit stealing the peoples money, i.e. taxes. And btw high taxes promoted and instituted by democrats and rinos is why people are continuing to leave the State of IL, thus, less people to collect taxes on. It’s amazing that otherwise fairly intelligent people as yourselves (council, mayor) are so unaware of reality.

  4. Exactly , but these clowns don’t think … don’t care ,, they run with it , hug it and keep increasing bureaucracy spreading the waste while creating more mythical visions and super cool environments ,, that will not only induce greatness but guarantee utopia .now it’s about making a buck on the citizens back and looking smart and busy .

  5. Dianne, i don’t always agree with you but this article goes out of the park

    Ci east is a dump and either needs to fixed up or demolished. Same as with front n center building. Tell those owners shape up or the city will fine you for code violations. Sf is gone from downtown. These master plans drive businesses away

    You need a master plan to drive businesses into downtown.(or no plan)

    We do need an welcoming ordinance for business. For starters , all new businesses in downtown will not have to pay sales taxes or the food prep tax or the hotel tax. Regulations for starting a new business will be reduced. And for other businesses, we will have a month of a tax holiday as a way to jump start downtown.

    Cause right as bones from star trek would say about downtown bloomington

    “it’s dead jim!”

  6. The number of vacancies downtown will lower the rent for entrepreneurs that don’t have enough faith or resources to locate on the east side. Council should embrace the “vibrant” downtown bar scene as that is the only vibrance left. There’s more ways to be friendly with business owners than just throwing (redistributing) money at them.

    1. Tari is literally turning away tax dollars from more bars in the name of his failed ideology. Cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.

  7. The more Renner and the City Council get involved in economic development, the worse it gets. Anyone notice a pattern here? Hello WGLT/WJBC/Pantagraph/AdaptBN…wake up! These fools continue to repeat the same failed strategy, somehow believing it will yield a different result. This time is different, right? What worries me the most is that they have no publicly stated plans for the property, which means a) they have no plan at all and are winging it, b) they have a plan and know that the public won’t like it, or c) they want to prevent someone in the private sector from buying it.

    1. Ya think? Do ya think a car wash across the street was their chosen right fit? Lol. Bet-cha that got Tari’s panties in a bunch!

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