Connect with us

Local News

In the middle of negotiations to terminate the lease, the City of Bloomington is “sitting tight” with plans to renovate Showers West



Bloomington, Indiana – Plans to move the city’s fire and police headquarters to Showers West—a property the City of Bloomington bought more than a year ago—have seen more decisions made but not much action.

With plans to move public safety closer to city hall, located in the eastern portion of the Showers building, the City of Bloomington paid $8.75 million in January 2023 to acquire the Showers West building. Certain businesses have been reluctant to consent to early lease termination negotiations ever since the talks started.

Originally used as a furniture manufacturing facility by Showers Brothers Company in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Showers was acquired from Cook Financial Corporation. In 1995, the property was renovated. The 64,000 square-foot western section of the Showers building, which was owned by CFC, was occupied by several commercial tenants, such as the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra, Monroe County Court Appointed Special Advocates, and Bloomington Health Foundation.

The City of Bloomington recruited realtor Chris Cockerham to proceed with the proposal and negotiate early lease termination agreements with the aforementioned tenants; however, some businesses are reluctant to do so due to uncertainty regarding the building’s future condition.

According to the B Square Bulletin, the Bank of America, Bloomington Health Foundation, Monroe County CASA, Warrant Technologies, ProBleu, and Bloomington Board of Realtors were reportedly still apprehensive about an early lease termination.

We were unable to obtain a response from any of the companies.

“I think the message right now is we’re kind of sitting tight,” Margie Rice, Corporation Counsel for the City of Bloomington said. “We’re not pushing for termination of their leases until we know what’s going to happen in that building.”

At the most recent meeting of the city redevelopment commission on February 5, all construction proposals for the Showers West restoration were rejected because they were no longer in line with the project’s requirements. The early lease terminations have been postponed as a result.

“We’re trying to slow it down a bit and really be thoughtful about what that space looks like and how we can come up with something over there that makes a lot of sense,” Rice said.

A performance and music education organization, Bloomington Symphony Orchestra, was among the first tenants to consent to a lease termination early in the project’s development.

“Once the city bought the building from CFC, they made it clear that they bought the building for a purpose,” Donna Lafferty, executive director of the orchestra said. “So, it wasn’t a huge surprise, but what has been surprising is how difficult it’s been to coordinate the actual settlement.”

The orchestra’s request for $3,500 was initially turned down, according to Lafferty, and as a result, they lost the place they had initially sought for relocation. However, the City of Bloomington promised to cover the orchestra’s moving costs. Lafferty revealed that although she had instructed staff to prepare for a move on February 1st, they had not received the necessary redevelopment commission approval.

“The redevelopment commission had to approve their end of the deal,” Lafferty said. “When they met, they forgot to include our part of it.”

Lafferty clarifies that, aside from theirs, every other early lease termination was permitted by the redevelopment panel.

“They said that they’d have a special meeting on the 31st [of January],” Lafferty said. “Which was the day they told us to be out. They approved us at that meeting. My board president and I attended to make sure they wouldn’t forget us this time.”

On February 2, the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra vacated their Showers West location. According to Lafferty, the City of Bloomington will give them $10,000 to cover moving costs.

There are other reasons than the present tenants that make the city’s redevelopment plans for Showers West questionable. Since the plans for their relocation were first discussed, the police union and a few department members have opposed them.

“I think there are still a lot of unanswered questions with the design of Showers West,” Bloomington Police Chief Michael Diekhoff said. “I think we need to have a bigger conversation of what we want, the future of policing and where the Bloomington Police Department relocates.”

Plans for the future shift of the Bloomington Fire Department into Showers West are probably still in motion, even though the BPD’s relocation status is still unknown.

The Redevelopment Commission will meet again on Monday, February 19.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *