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10/26/2018 12:37:00 PM
Bloomington looks to bond of $29.5 million would finance new downtown garages

Kurt Christian, Herald-Times

The Monroe County Courthouse can be seen from the top of the Fourth Street parking garage Thursday in downtown Bloomington.

Council members favored taking on as much as $29.5 million of debt over the next 22 years in order to replace the Fourth Street garage and build a new garage in the Trades District.

Bloomington’s city council considered issuing a $29.5 million, 22-year bond with an interest rate of up to 6 percent on Wednesday night as a way of financing two new parking garages. Taking on that debt will allow the city to demolish and replace the Fourth Street garage with a larger facility for a little over $18 million. That same bond may also provide the city with the more than $11 million it needs to construct a new 400-space garage in the Trades District.

Jeff Underwood, the city’s controller, said it would cost $1.8 million to repair the garage so that it would last another five years. That figure is almost 20 percent of what it would cost to demolish the existing Fourth Street garage and build a new one with the same specifications. For an additional 10 years of service, it would cost the city over $3 million, or 33 percent of the total replacement cost. Fifteen years of additional service would cost $4.3 million, nearly 47 percent of the cost to replace the garage. Officials believe the garage’s life won’t extend beyond 15 years and that inflation, as well as construction costs, are only going to rise the longer the city waits.

“Every year you delay, you get a 5 percent increase in the construction costs of a new garage,” Underwood said.

Officials also considered how long the garage will have to be closed. Though the garage will have to close for 6 to 8 months at the end of this year no matter what, repairing the garage for another five years would require closing the garage for up to two years. Stretching that structure’s lifespan another 10 or 15 years would require another full year offline.

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