The West Market Street Council plans to take ownership of the property at the intersection of West Market and Howard streets in Bloomington and turn it into a home for several retail businesses, community service agencies and a not-for-profit grocery store that would anchor the plaza. Project advocates see the development of a neighborhood grocery store as ending the food desert in west Bloomington, formally designated by the City of Bloomington, McLean County and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

There has been a building at the corner of West Market and Howard streets since 1892, and a grocery store has been located there since at least the 1930s. But the former grocery store has sat vacant and in a state of decay until it was demolished in early July 2020.

Preserving the site’s history is a major component of the project and is being incorporated into the new plaza’s design, said Laurie Bell and Arthur Haynes, who started the redevelopment initiative two years ago.

“This used to be the place where the community gathered. This was the place where you could give your kid a couple of bucks and send them to the store safely to pick up some things,” said Bell, recalling the plaza’s heyday.

Redevelopment of the site into the West Market Street Plaza is a way of re-creating a local economy “where money is being spent and earned right here in West Bloomington,” Bell said. “So we honor the people of the heyday.”

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