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City asks public to weigh in on hospital site redevelopment planning


Cars sit parked in the patient parking lot March 29, 2020 at the IU Health Bloomington Hospital. Bloomington residents will be able to submit feedback forms on the plans and drawings for the redevelopment of the site on an interactive city website starting June 1. Alex Deryn

The main planning period for the redevelopment of the current IU Health Bloomington Hospital site will begin this month, according to a city press release. The city has created multiple avenues for remote community engagement during the process including a website, virtual town hall meetings and email updates.

The city bought the 24-acre hospital site in 2018 after IU Health decided to build a new building, the IU Health Regional Academic Health Center, where the hospital will move in 2021.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the architecture and urban planning firm chosen by the city to head the project, will begin the process by interviewing over 100 stakeholders such as community leaders, businesses, neighborhood associations and people who live around the site. These individual meetings and focus groups will take place virtually in late May.

On June 1, the city will launch an interactive website where Bloomington residents can submit feedback forms on the plans and drawings that will be shared on the site throughout the process. A current page with updates and a link to a feedback form can be found on the city's website.

“People can look at the latest information and respond to the latest information online,” Deputy Mayor Mick Renneisen said in an interview. “It will be a repository for everything during the master planning period.”

The site will be a partial replacement for the inability to have face-to-face meetings with the community, Renneisen said. The other way the city will be seeking feedback is through the virtual town hall meetings. The first meeting will be 6 p.m. on June 16. The city will send information on how to participate in the meetings in residents' June water bills.

Renneisen said one of the top reasons the city chose Skidmore, Owings & Merrill was for their track record of making public engagement an important part of the planning process and their past experience with redeveloping hospital sites. The firm was chosen out of a pool of 20 developers who were interested in the project.

“It was quite an extensive process,” Renneisen said. “We felt like it was a once-in-a-generation opportunity.”

The Urban Land Institute, a team of land-use and urban planning experts, visited Bloomington in 2018 and wrote up a report of recommendations after talking to stakeholders. The planning process will take into account ULI’s recommendations which included using the site for retail, residential and office space as well as possibly building a community center.

Renneisen said the planning process will most likely last until the end of the calendar year.

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