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Bloomington Leaders Examining Hotel Feasibility Study Results

With the Town of Normal in the middle of building a Hyatt Hotel, Bloomington is revealing the results of its months-long feasibility study.
BLOOMINGTON - For months, the city of Bloomington has been weighing the possibility of a hotel in its downtown area. And now, with the Town of Normal in the middle of building a Hyatt Hotel, Bloomington is revealing the results of its months-long feasibility study.

"We're not going to grow by building more strip malls. That's a model of the '60s, '70s, and '80s. That's a dead model for the future,” said Bloomington’s mayor, Tari Renner.

Renner is excited about the results of a hotel feasibility study for downtown Bloomington. It says the city could support a hotel. Now, the question is, “Where”?

"We're one of the few cities in the Midwest that have 80,000 people and you can't even rent a single room in our downtown,” said Renner.

The city has narrowed things down to three finalists for the hotel itself, two of which are right by the U.S. Cellular Coliseum, and the reasoning for that is two-fold

"We can also help to get more acts and more venues in the coliseum to reduce the coliseum's red ink, and of course get more jobs."

But despite Renner's high hopes to put the hotel front and center, it won't be easy. The city would need to chip in about $18 million.

One option: creating a new TIF district, with District 87's support. -

"They are willing to consider with the city a very strategic TIF, for say like a single project,” said city manager David Hales.

Hales says the city would also consider restaurant food and drink taxes, and rebates from potential hotel or motel taxes,

"If they create it, maybe they could get a part of those again, to come back and reimburse them for part of the so-callled financing gap,” said Hales.

Renner is optimistic he can gain the support of council, because of the success that Normal has already had.

"We saw what vision and guts, frankly, and political determination can accomplish in Uptown Normal. I mean, just an unbelievable transformation,” said Renner.

Monday’s meeting to discuss the feasibility study results was postponed until next week. Renner says council will go over the material before the regular meeting.

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