Over time, there has been various slum/blight area designations within the City in support of a variety of CDGB funded activities including single-family owner-occupied rehabilitation, clearance, and installation of capital improvements (such as sidewalk replacement, curb and gutter replacement, street resurfacing, and installation of water and/or sewer mains).
Three national objectives of CDBG:
• Benefiting low- and moderate-income persons
• Preventing or eliminating slums or blight, or
• Meeting other community development needs that have a particular urgency because existing conditions pose a serious and immediate threat to the health and welfare of the community when financial resources are not available to meet such needs.
Since the 1960s, the City of Bloomington has received funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the implementation of various assistance programs. Since 1974, the program has been known as CDBG.
In 1989 the City Council approved six separate areas to have the designation of slum/blight. These areas were evaluated based on the definition of “slum and blighted area” as per the State of Illinois statute 315 ILCS 5/3. These six areas encompassed a large portion of the central, north and southwest sections of the community.
Another survey of these areas was completed in 1997-98 working in conjunction with McLean County Regional Planning. Based on the results of this survey a new area was designated as slum/blight, which was substantially less in overall coverage of the community. The new area eliminated most of the north and northwest portions of the previously designated slum/blight area, approximately one-third less in size. The resulting document, the 1998 Building Conditions Final Report was approved by the City Council in September, 1998.
The resulting document from the 1997-1998 survey was the 1998 Building Conditions Final Report, which was approved
by the City Council in September, 1998.
The City Council for the City of Bloomington approved the following definition of a slum and blighted area on November 10, 2008.
DEFINITION OF SLUM AND BLIGHTED AREA
“Slum and Blighted Area” means any predominantly urbanized area within the territorial
limits of a municipality in which 25 percent, or more, of the properties exhibit one or
more of the following characteristics:
(1) Prevalence of buildings in which it is unsafe or unhealthy for persons to live or work.
These conditions can be caused by serious building code violations, dilapidation and
deterioration, defective design or physical construction, faulty or inadequate utilities, or
other similar factors.
(2) The existence of inadequate public improvements; such as: water, sewer, street, curb
and gutter, sidewalks, and parking areas.
(4) Existence of properties with known or suspected environmental contamination or
(5) The existence of factors that prevent or substantially hinder the economically viable
use or capacity of buildings or lots. This condition can be caused by a substandard
design, inadequate size given present standards and market conditions, lack of parking, or
other similar factors.
(6) Adjacent or nearby uses that are incompatible with each other and which prevent the
economic development of those parcels or other portions of the project area.
(7) The existence of subdivided lots of irregular form and shape and inadequate size for
proper usefulness and development that are in multiple ownership and/or do not meet the
City’s bulk regulation standards as adopted by the zoning code.
(8) Depreciated or stagnant property values, impaired investments, or increase in
(9) Abnormally high business vacancies, abnormally low lease rates, high turnover rates,
abandoned buildings, or excessive vacant lots within an area developed for urban use and
served by utilities.
(10) A lack of necessary commercial facilities that are normally found in neighborhoods,
including grocery stores, drug stores, banks, and other lending institutions.
(11) Residential overcrowding or an excess of bars, liquor stores, or other businesses that
cater exclusively to adults, which has led to problems with safety and welfare.
(12) A high crime rate that constitutes a serious threat to the public safety and welfare.
1941 Zoning Ordinance and Land Use Plan: The project area was predominantly zoned “residential” (includes single and multi-family dwellings). The eastern edge, the western edge along Market, and the intersection of Washington and Allin Streets of the project area were zoned “commercial.” Large portions of the northwest and southeast corners were zoned “industrial.”
The previously zoned “residential” areas were re-zoned as “R 3A multiple dwelling district” throughout much of the project area; re-zoned as “R 3B multiple dwelling district” along the eastern edge; and re-zoned as “R 2 two family dwelling district” at the southwest corner. “Industrial” zoned properties within the project area were re-zoned as “M 1 light industrial.” The “commercial” areas along the eastern edge of the area were re-zoned to “C-3 business district”, as the remainder were changed to “C-2 commercial.”
1964 Zoning Ordinance and Land Use Plan: The zoning in the project area
remained the same except for the “M-1 light industrial” was changed to “M-2 heavy
industrial” in the northwest corner.
1979 Zoning Ordinance and Land Use Plan: Several zoning changes within the project area were brought about with this plan. The residential areas within the project area that were previously zoned “R-3A” were re-zoned to “R-2 mixed residence district” to allow for high single family housing and low multiple family dwelling density. The area that was zoned “R-2 two family dwelling” was re-zoned to “R-1 C high density single family district.” The “M-1 light industrial district” and “M-2 heavy industrial” areas were re-classified to “M-1 restricted manufacturing district.” The “C-3 business district and C-2 commercial” were re-classified to “B-3 central business district, B-2 general business district, and C-2 neighborhood business district.” This ordinance is currently in use today.
2007 GAP (aka Gridley, Allin and Prickett’s Neighborhood Association Area) Form Based Zoning Ordinance and Land Use Plan: The north third of the project area, the Gridley, Allin, & Prickett Neighborhood, has been rezoned to encompass four of the six GAP zoning classifications. The new zoning classifications within the project area are comprised of “GAP-1 estate house, manor”, “GAP-2 house, estate house, manor”, “GAP-3 iconic, house, manor, apartments on corners” located in the residential areas, and “GAP-5 commercial, cottage commercial, iconic, apartment” located along Market Street. The GAP Form based zoning attempts to respect the character of an existing neighborhood. It provides some protection in that new construction would have to conform to certain standards such as being similar in size and scale to the structures next to it. It also promotes compatible façade features and streetscapes. These regulations include permitted uses, parking, and landscape standards, as well as building type standards.
The current land use within the area is accurately reflected by the 1979 land use plan. While the core zoning of residential, commercial, and industrial have only changed slightly within the project area; the growing diversity of zoning classifications have impacted the land use throughout the years. Most of this impact has been shown through the abundance of once single-family homes that have been converted to multi-family residences; which in turn affected the building conditions in the area.
The City believes that the GAP form-based zoning shall have an effect on preserving some of the original character of the northern project area while still allowing for low-impact mixed uses; and shall improve the quality of the neighborhood over time. If this is proven, the City may want to extend this type of zoning throughout the project area.
-More information on the 2008 Building Conditions Report
The near west side of central Bloomington was developed well before the Civil War. The 1867 Ruger birds-eye view of the area illustrates a neighborhood of smaller one-story houses. This is to be expected for middle class and working class housing of that era which was neither large nor spacious. It is likely that an architectural/historical survey would discover numerous structures form this period, with a few that still maintain the feel of the pre-bellum period.
At that time the neighborhood served two centers of economic activity, the downtown and the growing Chicago and Alton Railroad shops located two blocks northwest of the corner of Locust and Catherine. Walking was the primary form of city transportation and this neighborhood provided good access to both centers. Housing segregation, by wealth, was not heavily established in this period, and so a smattering of larger two-story houses is evident from this period. A good example is the brick Greek-Revival Stautz Meat market building on the northwest corner of Market and Lee St. (Stautz was a German immigrant.) Larger houses from this period, further west, do still survive. Their functions were two-fold, some were houses of the elite like the large Italianate Houses located along the 600 and 700 blocks of west Locust.
Architectural/historical survey work in this neighborhood may also be able to identify large houses, which served as railroad-worker boarding houses and hotels. Houses closer to the downtown also ranged in size but larger homes were those for the elite. Shop clerks would board as individuals within larger homes. These individuals were more likely to be of non-immigrant stock, and more similar in culture to the homeowners than the
industrial workers further west.
All of the houses of this period, as well as the houses built in the neighborhood until the 1940s are commonly detached one and two story balloon framed buildings set on common brick foundations. Most of these structures have partial or full basements which were thought to be prophylactic against rising malaria causing miasmas. They also 12 served as important domestic work spaces. Because of the narrow urban lots, gables typically faced the streets and the street facades featured porches and whatever decorative woodwork that was affordable to the home builder.
A number of two and four flat brick and frame buildings are scattered in the neighborhood. These primarily date from the period 1900 to 1930.
In the twentieth century the neighborhood remained middle-class and working class, up to the 1930s. Two factors affected its decline in status and upkeep. The automobile changed local transportation patterns and the Great Depression caused a change in utilization of the large late 19th century houses. Upwardly mobile and well established people left the neighborhood. Large houses were being converted into apartment buildings and city building codes were insufficient to direct these conversions, leaving a wide variety of suitable and unsuitable living spaces. Housing issues relating to WWII, including movement of women into the work force and the need to house returning veterans (both groups of modest income) added further demand for these conversions. Because of cultural pressures and patterns, such arrangements typically worked for the residents. Although many of the structures were broken up into many units, an owner typically lived in or nearby the multi-family housing units. Well into the 1960s these neighborhoods remained stable and successful.
With the introduction of cheap repair materials and the decline in building trades standards these structures started to deteriorate in the 1970s. Absentee owners became more common and the units were being viewed as income producing as opposed to income stabilizing for the owner-occupant. Such decline attracted renters whose deep patterns of agricultural-based poverty were challenged by denser urban living arrangements. The social bonds which served as a stabilizing force were disappearing. By the 1990s the neighborhood was in deep shock with poorly maintained structures that were farmed for whatever income could be squeezed out of them. The social results of this pattern are read on today’s landscape.