COMMERCIAL PROPERTY MUSINGS (Downtown and Around)
As we cruise toward the closing out of 2019, there is and has been a great deal of focus on the downtown State Farm1 building (demo or develop). State Farm is prepared to demo if a viable alternative doesn’t firm up. Maybe the Rockford developer proposing luxury apartments and a restaurant could work, but there is skepticism amongst the excitement. The public commentary about State Farm lately has been interesting (“…they are worth $250 billion so they can afford to wait”; “Don’t demo”; “Maybe we can stop them from getting a demo permit”). Some private comments are tougher yet! Well, it is State Farm’s building. They happen to be the largest employer and largest real estate taxpayer by far – in 2017 paid $172,221,745 – the next nine (9) highest taxpayers paid a total of $82,000,000! They are the catalyst when it comes to the millions and millions of dollars feeding our local economy. It might behoove the beneficiaries to not be overly critical of State Farm. It seems to be a little-known fact that Crain’s Chicago Business Publication has, for the last few years, placed State Farm #1 in their extensive list of “Chicago’s Largest Privately Held Companies” – claiming all of State Farm’s revenue and employees as belonging to Chicago! Care to surmise why and how they might be doing that?? (Invitation – Chicago doors are open!)
As always, we certainly hope the Colosseum activities and attendees continue to improve. Too bad they have to pass through and around the Front-n-Center2 building; the former Commerce Bank3 building; the former Elk’s4 Building; and the former Pantagraph5 building – all sitting vacant! The remainder of Downtown has many offerings too numerous to mention here. Suffice it to say, the best things about Downtown are the many wonderful people who work, live and do business. There is a heartbeat in Downtown but it might have a “murmur” problem here and there.
Let’s look at another long standing problem in Bloomington. The “ROAD ENDS'' sign is located at the corner of Hamilton Road and Commerce Parkway. Recently, there has been publicity from City Hall about extending Hamilton Road from the dead end to Bunn Street. This would complete the extension as an alternative thoroughfare to Veterans Parkway, across the south end from Hershey Road on the east to Fox Creek Road on the west. One could be excused for not being “excited”, particularly the businesses on Hamilton Road and Commerce Parkway – they have been waiting nearly 28 years (starting in 1991).
The publicity from the City in the 1990’s was to the effect it was working on plans for the Hamilton extension and negotiating a crossover with the railroad located just west of the “ROAD ENDS” sign. At one point, the City represented it had an agreement with the railroad which was being drafted by a City Staff Attorney – never to be heard from again!! Who knows why?
I believe the current City Administration recognizes the NEED to move forward and complete this long-standing, overdue obligation, regardless of what so-called “CORE”, if any, it exists in.
Shall we hope maybe the extension project could be completed by 2021, the 30th anniversary of the original commitment??!! Well-intentioned government officials and others are working to rectify a number of unfortunate actions of the past which still plague the City – cheer them on and give an assist if and when you can!