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ON BUSINESS

Watch now: Construction at 4 new Bloomington businesses progressing

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A new business on the courthouse square, an improved car wash along a commercial corridor and two new restaurants are some of the economic developments expected across Bloomington this summer.

BLOOMINGTON — A new business on the courthouse square, an improved car wash along a commercial corridor and two new restaurants — one on the west side and one on the far east side — are some of the economic developments expected across the city this summer. 

Sugar Mama Bakery 

Nearly six years after a local bakery moved its ovens from downtown Bloomington to uptown Normal, the business is prepping to open its kitchen again at a new downtown storefront. 

Sugar Mama Bakery is on track to open sometime in early July from the former Subway restaurant, 109 W. Jefferson St., on the courthouse square. It will close its Normal location, 116 W. North St., before August. 

Sugar Mama Bakery exterior

Workers with McLean County Glass & Mirror repair a window Tuesday at 109 W. Jefferson St. in downtown Bloomington. The space will host Sugar Mama Bakery, which specializes in artisan and custom-order baked goods.

I caught owner Susie Tod on Tuesday as she and employees were unloading and moving baking supplies into the space, which features exposed brick, natural materials and plenty of natural light. 

"It's not going to be a cookie-cutter design," Tod joked with me as she moved a stand-mixer off a counter.

Tod closed her previous downtown Bloomington location, 405 N. Main St., in 2015 to focus her efforts on the Normal location.

The bakery, which specializes in artisan and custom-order baked goods, was first started around 2010 when Tod and then-partner Krista Gaff began baking out of Gaff's home.

Sugar Mama Bakery interior

Workers with McLean County Glass & Mirror can be seen from inside of 109 W. Jefferson St., the downtown Bloomington storefront that will host Sugar Mama Bakery. The bakery is set to open in early July. 

Tod's plan had been to open the new Bloomington store on July 2, but that date will likely be pushed back, she said. She's been met with some construction delays caused by the weekend's storms and still needs to install some equipment. 

Other than adding another option for coffee and baked goods to downtown Bloomington, the business will fill a storefront that has sat vacant since mid-2019.

On Track Car Wash

The site of a former car wash on the city's northeast side is set to feature a new car wash facility, to be built sometime this year. 

Developers Jeremy and Jeffrey Schoenherr want to build at 1509 E. Vernon Avenue a new automated On Track Car Wash, largely replacing the 10-bay do-it-yourself Car Wash Express that occupied the site between 1988 and 2010. 

On Track Car Wash rendering

This rendering shows the On Track Car Wash scheduled to be built at 1509 E. Vernon Avenue in Bloomington. A site plan for the new facility was approved in June. 

The 0.92-acre lot sits on the corner of one of Bloomington's busiest intersections and within one of the city's major commercial corridors. It has remained vacant for the last 11 years, after the last facility was demolished.

The proposed car wash facility follows a design to house a franchise model of the Tommy Car Wash Systems, including a 110-foot tunnel for the automatic wash equipment and 15 outdoor vacuum bays.

City planning officials approved the new facility's site plan in May, and the Bloomington City Council OK'd the plan in June. 


Relaxed rules with social distancing and isolation screens have returned many gamers to the machines.


Panda Express restaurant 

In addition to nearly every other staple fast-food chain, the city's westside commercial stretch will soon host a Panda Express drive-thru and restaurant.  

CFT NV Developments LLC, based in Las-Vegas, wants to construct the 2,381-square-foot Chinese-American fast food restaurant at 1901 W. Market St. 

The property was previously used for a gas station from 1978 to the early 2010s. It has sat vacant since 2017, after the Citgo station was demolished. 

Site of future Panda Express restaurant

This screengrab from Google Maps shows the current status of 1901 W. Market St. in Bloomington. Developers want to construct a Panda Express drive-thru restaurant at the site, which has sat vacant since 2017. 

The Bloomington Planning Commission approved the restaurant's site plan earlier this month. It will be before the city council on July 26. 

The restaurant's construction would mark the second new fast-food business added to West Market Street in 2021.

A site plan for a new 3,900-square-foot structure commercial structure at 1514 W. Market St. — replacing the old Grand Café West Side restaurant —was approved by the city council in April. A Domino's Pizza restaurant will occupy one half of the new building.

Jersey Mike's Subs restaurant 

The build-out of a new sandwich shop on the city's far eastside is progressing, with construction expected to be complete sometime in August.

Crews are altering the interior of unit 103 at the Eastland Commons, 305 N. Veterans Pkwy, to accommodate a Jersey Mike's Subs restaurant. The space was previously occupied by a TD Ameritrade office.  

Site of future Jersey Mike's Subs restaurant

This Google Maps screengrab shows a trio of suites at the Eastland Commons, 305 N. Veterans Pkwy. in Bloomington, where a new Jersey Mike's Subs restaurant is under construction. The new restaurant will occupy the far-left suite, the former site of a TD Ameritrade office. 

A $130,000 commercial building permit for the conversion was issued in late May, and when I dropped in this week a contractor on-site said most of the rough-in was complete. 

The sandwich chain offers east coast-style subs and competes directly with Jimmy John's and Subway. Its Bloomington location will be the first in McLean County. 


Contact Timothy Eggert at (309) 820-3276. Follow him on Twitter: @TimothyMEggert

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