State Farm Downtown Building Not Fully Utilized, No Update on Renovations

 (Credit: Christian Prenzler)

(Credit: Christian Prenzler)

UPDATE: State Farm has decided to close the Downtown Bloomington building by the end of the month

Downtown residents and business owners have noticed The State Farm Downtown Building operating at less than full capacity for some time now. Rumors surround State Farm’s plans for the former corporate headquarters at 112 E. Washington St., from job cuts to selling the building altogether.

At this time, the building is not for sale, said State Farm Spokesperson Missy Dundov.

Dundov provided a brief statement in response to rumors that the building is vacant and may be sold:

"The Downtown Building is not on the market. While we are currently upgrading the building with the installation of new fire sprinkler and alarm systems, we are taking appropriate steps to protect the safety of our employees during this work."

While Dundov confirmed some employees have been moved from the building for their safety while upgrades are taking place, she could not say whether those employees would return to the building once upgrades are completed.

City of Bloomington Building Official Bob Coombs said State Farm would not necessarily have to remove employees from the building while updates are underway. “They have enough room to move people around in there,” said Coombs.

Coombs said updates to the building’s fire sprinkler and alarm systems have been ongoing for the last two years or so, with no completion date set for the project.

State Farm declined to comment on Coombs’ observations.

According to records obtained from construction data and analytics website BuildZoom, a permit for sprinkler installation was issued to Illini Fire Service LLC on August 8, 2016. Kinsale Contracting Group Inc. received permits to place dumpsters for a “fire safety project” at the building on August 16, 2016 and again on January 5, 2017.

Permit history for the building also showed a permit issued to Kinsale Group on August 16, 2016 for “asbestos abatement in phases through November (2016),” valued at $427,000. 

A Kinsale Group employee declined to say whether the company performed the work described in the permit. However, the employee did state that any structure of that age would likely contain asbestos. The Downtown Building was built in 1929.

“Kinsale Contracting Group specializes in professional asbestos abatement in industrial, governmental, institutional, commercial and residential properties,” according to its website.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to ensure no one is exposed to asbestos levels above the permissible exposure limit during construction or maintenance of buildings containing asbestos.State Farm and Kinsale Contracting Group both declined to comment whether the building was undergoing asbestos removal or whether that was the cause of the buildings vacancies.

It’s still unclear whether State Farm will fill its vacancies in the building, but leaving the historic headquarters underutilized makes many residents uneasy with the major employer's commitment to Bloomington-Normal.