In his March 2024 “It’s Your Business” column, John Fernandez, The Mill’s Senior Vice President for Innovation and Strategic Partnerships, elaborated on how the Trades District is set to reshape Bloomington’s future. As John noted, this transformative economic development project, nestled in the heart of Bloomington, is poised to become a crucial engine for economic growth and community vitality. Under John’s leadership, The Mill has made significant strides in advancing the city’s vision for the Trades District since March.

Energy Sciences Network to Open New Office in Bloomington’s Trades District
On May 17th, Mayor Thomson and The Mill announced a landmark agreement to lease commercial space in the Trades District garage to Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), a high-performance networking and innovative services provider for the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) scientific research ecosystem. ESnet is funded by the DOE Office of Science and stewarded by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, CA, where ESnet’s central office is located.

ESnet aligns perfectly with the Trades District vision. Their presence will introduce high-paying tech jobs, enhance access to talent from Indiana University, and foster community engagement within the district. In the city’s announcement, ESnet Network Services Lead Jon-Paul Herron, a Bloomington resident and Trades District Advisory Board member, highlighted the mutual benefits: “ESnet is excited to establish a central home for our local staff and other Berkeley Lab colleagues, enabling us to connect more easily with the many experts in this community. We look forward to contributing to Bloomington’s technological and economic development.”

Trades District Hotel Developer Approved by the Redevelopment Commission
The Mill’s recommended letter of intent (LOI) with the development team of Alluinn
Trades District Hotel, LLC and Pure Development received approval from the

Redevelopment Commission at its May 20 meeting. The LOI includes the sale of two
parcels in the Trades District for $1.2 million to build a premium brand hotel.

The Alluinn/Pure recommendation was based on the teams’ combined experience,
strong relationships with Indiana University and other local stakeholders, and their
proven track record in developing successful premium hotel properties.

The Trades District hotel will cement the district as a destination for business,
innovation, and collaboration, and offers new lodging, dining, and meeting spaces. This $35 million private investment promises significant financial returns for taxpayers’ investments in The Trades District. Local government revenues from this project are projected to reach $7.1 million over a decade, excluding annual local option income tax revenue and Trades District garage usage fees. The Net Present Value (i.e. today’s value of this 10-year revenue stream) is estimated at $5.7 million (with a conservative 4% discount rate). Additionally, the full economic impact, including direct and indirect job creation, will significantly enhance the project’s total value.

The Mill is spearheading negotiations on the definitive purchase agreement (“Project Agreement”), expected to be presented to the RDC for approval at its July 15, 2024, meeting.

The Forge: A Symbol of Progress
On March 28th, the Trades District community gathered for a ‘topping off’ ceremony, where local business and civic leaders celebrated this major milestone by signing one of the final steel beams before it was placed atop the building’s structure.

Thanks to the diligent work of local construction teams, The Forge, a new ‘green’ Class A office building, is progressing on time and within budget. Our marketing and communications efforts have attracted more prospective tenants for The Forge. Drive by the Trades District to witness the exciting progress being made on this project.

As John noted in his March column, the Trades District isn’t just about buildings and businesses; it’s about creating a future where Bloomington thrives as a hub for innovation and opportunity. With these recent advancements, this future is unfolding right before our eyes.