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The Indiana Daily Student

city bloomington

City of Bloomington 'sitting tight' amidst lease termination negotiations in plans for Showers West renovation

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CORRECTION: This story has been updated to include a photo of the Showers West building.

More decisions but little progress has been made in plans to relocate the city fire and police headquarters in Showers West, the property purchased over a year ago by the City of Bloomington.  

In January 2023, the City of Bloomington purchased the Showers West building for $8.75 million with the intention of relocating public safety closer to city hall, which is in the eastern part of the Showers building. Since the beginning of discussion, some businesses have been hesitant to agree on early lease termination negotiations.  

Purchased from Cook Financial Corporation, Showers was originally the Showers Brothers Company furniture manufacturing plant during the late 19th and early 20th century. The property underwent renovations in 1995. Under CFC ownership, the 64,000 square-foot western portion of the Showers building housed several business tenants including Monroe County Court Appointed Special Advocates, Bloomington Health Foundation and Bloomington Symphony Orchestra.  

To move forward with the plan, the City of Bloomington hired realtor Chris Cockerham to negotiate early lease termination agreements with said tenants, but uncertainty for the future state of the building is leaving some businesses unwilling.  

The Bank of America, Bloomington Health Foundation, Monroe County CASA, Warrant Technologies, ProBleu and Bloomington Board of Realtors were allegedly still hesitant to an early lease termination, according to the B Square Bulletin.  

None of the businesses could be reached for comment.  

“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.”  

All construction bids for the Showers West renovation were denied at the last city redevelopment commission meeting on Feb. 5, as they no longer met the needs of the project. As a result, the early lease terminations have been put on hold.  

“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.  

Bloomington Symphony Orchestra, a performance and musical education group, was one of the first tenants to agree to a lease termination early in the project's progress.  

“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 City of Bloomington offered to pay the orchestra for any moving expenses, but their request of $3,500 was initially denied, Lafferty said, consequently losing the space they had originally found for relocation. Lafferty shared that she told employees to be ready to move on Feb. 1st, but they didn’t get the approval they needed from the redevelopment commission.  

“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 explains the redevelopment commission approved all the other early lease terminations except for theirs.  

“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.”  

The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra moved out of their Showers West location Feb. 2. They will be receiving $10,000 from the City of Bloomington to cover moving expenses, said Lafferty.  

Current tenants aren’t the only factor hesitant of the city’s plan for the Showers West renovation. The police union and select members of the police department have resisted the plan for their relocation since the beginning of discussions.  

“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.”  

The state of relocation for the BPD is still uncertain but plans for the Bloomington Fire Department’s eventual move into Showers West are likely to continue.  

The next meeting of the redevelopment commission will be on Monday, Feb. 19 

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