Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Surveying Our Options

OK, imagineers, put on your thinking caps. What would you do—and not do—with a decommissioned church in the middle of a residential neighborhood?

Jan Sorby, BPNA president, reports that a number of prospective buyers of the former Church of Christ at the corner of Davis and Washington have approached her to ask what redevelopment options the neighborhood would consider appropriate.

“I can tell you what I think,” Sorby tells them, “but to be fair, let’s take a survey of the neighbors to get broader input—especially from people who would be impacted by parking and traffic near their homes.”

The people living nearby are not the only ones who will be affected by the outcome, however. Sorby says, “There is a bigger issue here than just the adaptive re-use of a single property. We all have to start thinking about how we want our neighborhood to evolve. This is a core neighborhood, close to downtown, and attractively priced. It will change. Whether it does so at random or by design is up to us, to a certain extent.”

Another church could take over the building and its current commercial zoning without change. Bloomington’s Uniform Development Ordinance permits various conditional uses of property in neighborhoods like this, zoned single-family residential—for example, churches, schools, and home-based businesses (e.g., a photographer’s studio, an accountant’s office, in-home day care).

With a variance, the property might be used for business offices rented to non-resident professionals or business owners. In addition, decommissioned churches across the country have been converted into condominiums, performance space and galleries, yoga centers and spas, and many other uses.

To let your voice be heard, call Sorby at 334-2075 or send an email to jansorby@sbcglobal.net. Your identity will be kept confidential unless you direct otherwise.

From January 2008 BPNA Neighborhood News

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