BLOOMINGTON – The City of Bloomington has made an accepted offer to purchase 320 W. 8th Street, a 64,000-square-foot section of the Showers Building where City Hall is currently located.
City ownership of this section of the historic building could allow the Police Department and the Fire Department administration offices to be housed together, centrally located downtown and as part of City Hall. After both departments suffered major flood damage last summer, this consolidation would allow for new and improved facilities, as well as enhanced collaboration with other components of City Hall.
“City government always strives to meet the needs of residents through accessible and responsive city services. Modernizing public safety facilities under one roof and centralizing service locations can help us do that,” said Mayor John Hamilton. “We are also pleased to have a chance to do so in a way that preserves and integrates a structure that is of such historical importance in our City’s long story.”
Renovated in 1995, the 1910-era Showers Brothers Furniture complex currently is owned in three sections – the City, the County, and CFC Properties. The City is proposing to purchase the 64,000 square-foot CFC portion. The Bloomington Redevelopment Commission (RDC), with approval from the Common Council, would purchase the property for $9.25 million.
Before a property purchase is accomplished, the RDC will conduct due diligence on the property including environmental assessment, building inspection, remodeling options, land survey, and review of existing leases and contracts. Closing of the deal is also contingent upon successfully procuring the financing for the project.
“Our department administration has been spread out all over the City for years and for the first time we would be able to be in the same location working closer with other City departments. This integration will benefit our employees and more importantly, it will streamline several processes for the community we serve,” said Bloomington Fire Department Chief Jason Moore.
This purchase will meet a new physical space needed for the City fire and police departments. The flood event damage in 2021 made rehabbing existing buildings inadvisable, with costs exceeding value and with future flood risks. Earlier this year in connection with the new Economic Development Local Income Tax (ED-LIT) discussions, the City Council designated substantial new funding for public safety, specifically including for a new police department headquarters and additional fire administration improvements.
“The Bloomington Police Department is in critical need of a new facility, especially since the flood in 2021. Acquiring this building is a great opportunity to invest in the future of policing in our community. A new police headquarters will strengthen public safety in our community and help us retain and recruit new officers. It will also keep our residents and visitors that much safer. Locating a new headquarters in proximity to other city services is a logical extension of the City’s desire to provide for Bloomington residents,” said Bloomington Police Department Chief Mike Diekhoff.
In addition to physically centralizing City departments, the City purchase of the CFC building allows for the continued preservation of a historic structure in Bloomington. Plans for the current police and fire buildings, at 220 E Third Street and 300 E 4th Street respectively, will be determined at a later date.