Bloomington Planning 'Kiln' Redevelopment

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(photo courtesy of the city of Bloomington) (photo courtesy of the city of Bloomington)

The city of Bloomington is looking to continue the redevelopment of the former Showers Brothers Furniture Co. complex. Following the successful renovation of a former furniture factory into The Mill coworking space and incubator, the city is now planning to sell the Kiln, a one-story facility that was previously used to dry lumber before being used to fabricate furniture. The Kiln is located adjacent to The Mill and Alex Crowley, director of economic and sustainable development for the city, says the facility has the potential for providing additional office and retail space. 

The Kiln is comprised of two buildings and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Crowley says the Kiln's location next to The Mill is the reason it was chosen as the next piece for redevelopment. 

"It is, in its proximity, in our opinion a perfect location for either other companies that would like to come and be in the ecosystem that The Mill has already created in the area, but also because it's right next door, it becomes an opportunity for companies who are start to outgrow the Mill space to have a landing point outside of The Mill, which is exactly the flow that we want to see," said Crowley. "We want to see companies start and grow up in The Mill and then move into another place."

Crowley says the redevelopment of The Mill has done exactly what the city had hoped it would do, which is to become a focal point of what was previously a somewhat disparate entrepreneurial and technological environment. 

"It's also a frankly remarkable design success and has been recognized statewide as that. So there's a pretty strong positive reaction community-wide for those people who have seen The Mill, seen what a renovation can look like when it's done tastefully and done successfully and I think there's probably a pretty high expectation that that type of success will follow in some of these other historic buildings, all of which we hope will trigger the significant end game that we're pushing towards which is to attract development on the lots that are in the Trades District that are undeveloped right now and drive development of those in an effort to really create employment opportunities in Bloomington that have been bubbling for a little while but really need a swift kick right now."

Brian Payne, assistant director of small business development for the city, says the entire redevelopment effort aims to return an area that once served as the entire economic engine for the city, aside from Indiana University, back to prominence.

"These are buildings that, prior to now, sat vacant for more than a decade," said Payne. "(The Kiln is) both a huge opportunity for the historical adaptive reuse of an amazing fiscal opportunity as The Mill was and it's also situated right next to across from Upland (Brewing) in a great mixed-use destination so it's not only a current underutilized resource but it's one of the few beautiful historic buildings that has the potential to be an amazing site just like The Mill did." 

The city is currently accepting bids for acquiring the Kiln property through Friday.

Crowley says another historic building the area, known as the Showers administration building, will be put on the market for potential redevelopment as well. The building served as the corporate offices for the Showers Brothers Furniture Co. 

Crowley says the Kiln's location next to The Mill is the reason it was chosen as the next piece for redevelopment.
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