Bloomington: If the project isn’t feasible, we will pay

By: Diane Benjamin

The City of Bloomington has had other opportunities to unload the old Coachman Hotel property. They didn’t like what the buyer wanted to do with the property so they refused to sell it.

Tonight the council will consider a different development project. This agreement included a small parcel the taxpayers paid $95,000 for not including demolitions of an existing house: (PIN #21-04-407-008)

I believe taxpayers also footed the bill for demolition of the decrepit hotel after former City Manager Tom Hamilton wanted to buy the property in 2006 for $620,000. More history of the property is available at this link as former Alderman Judy Stearns stated during Public Comment in 2015:

This is the documentation for tonight on the properties considered for redevelopment:

Taxpayers will be on the hook for $4,508,960, the City plans to generate that money through TIF funds (property taxes) and short-term rental taxes. Using future money is by far better than outright handouts. One problem:

The City is selling the property taxpayers have $95,000 invested in plus demolition costs of the hotel and a house for: (See the redevelopment agreement linked at the bottom)

Bloomington also paid for a feasibility study before the agreement was made. No idea what that cost.

Normal people don’t get plan projects they can’t afford. Those who know government will rebate taxes and therefore eliminate part of the risk love public-private partnerships. This project will not happen unless taxpayers co-sign. Remember the two failed Uptown buildings that didn’t materialize even with subsidies? Title to the combined property shouldn’t be transferred without a clause stating it reverts back to the City if nothing is built.

Guess what? The agreement does!

Taxpayers are still out the expenses already incurred however. “Assessed market value” is subjective and sounds like a court case.

Is this a bad project? Not if it get built and starts generating taxes. TIF payments will need tracked for years. Bloomington has a poor track record there, remember when they “found” a couple million TIF dollars years ago?

One more note: This project isn’t affordable housing:

6 thoughts on “Bloomington: If the project isn’t feasible, we will pay

  1. If this is such a good deal then the developer should finance it him/herself. Taxpayers will end up financing a project that may never generate a dime for the city.. Keep looking at the Coliseum.

    1. The developers know they can get sizable public benefits. Elected officials and highly-compensated administrators with golden benefits want to use this to justify their re-election or new contracts. Thus, they know they can easily ask for 20-25% of the funding and also great other free items – land, other infrastructure.

      At least this puts the investment succeeding on the developer. The City is putting up future revenues that likely wouldn’t happen in this area. Also, having to do this type of deal surely shows that people need to be bought to go Downtown. No matter how much people like Renner or Gleason want to promote Downtown, it’s a losing push without buying the investment.

      Officials should publicly state why they wouldn’t drive this investment to where it wouldn’t cost millions, but they won’t.

  2. A good project is a financially viable project. If government has to give them the land to make it good, then it’s Not good. If whether or not it pays its relevant taxes determines whether or not it’s good, then either it’s Not good or the taxes are too high.
    On the plus side, this deal doesn’t directly cost taxpayer money, but it Does cost indirectly – previous monies not recouped and future monies not collected. Both of those expenditures Can be justified by simply admitting government overpaid up front, or that high taxes are stifling the economy and these rebates are a pre-step towards lowering them. I won’t hold my breath on either…

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