3 years of planning for housing comes to an end in Normal after developer pulls out; Town searching for new partner

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NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — Despite efforts to complete the project within the last three years, Bush Development announced it is ending the development of the Trail East subdivision Thursday.

Located in Normal’s Uptown Circle, the subdivision was originally proposed as a five-story tall mostly residential development before a more recent adjustment downgraded the size to a four-story development. Now, those plans have been dropped entirely.

“The decision to no longer proceed with Trail East was extremely difficult,” said AJ Loss, Manager of Bush Development, LLC. “This is not the outcome we envisioned three years ago, however, we’ve exhausted every viable option.”

Normal Mayor Chris Koos said he found out about Bush’s decision to pull out of the development on Wednesday and said it was “disappointing” to hear.

However, Koos said the Town of Normal is still committed to the project and added the search is on for a new developer.

“We’ll be talking to some other developers because we still have a number of people that want to locate their businesses in Uptown Normal,” Koos said. “We have construction plans completed which are owned by the architecture and engineering firm, so we’ll be going forward trying to find another developer.”

Company officials said continuous hardships led to Thursday’s decision, including a lawsuit over a dispute with a mural in Uptown Normal. Other contributing factors included market and economic conditions.

Koos acknowledged the controversy involving the project, but described the project as a “win for everybody”.

“We approved that plan and citing buildings in that location and others in the Uptown so we’re going to move forward with it and again we’ve got tenants that want to be located here,” Koos said. “It brings more life into the area which helps support other businesses that are already here.”

“We couldn’t be more appreciative of the Town of Normal, local supporters, and the investors and tenants that committed to Trail East. Together, we were so very close to bringing a remarkable development to life. We’re confident every tenant will find the most cost-efficient space for their business to flourish and the Town of Normal will continue with its exceptional growth plans,” said Loss.

As of Thursday, Koos was still unsure of the exact reason Bush decided to move on.

“The lawsuit really wasn’t that much of an issue because we came up with a solution that seemed to work pretty well. If I had to guess I would guess it’s the cost of construction,” Koos said.

As for the mural, Koos said he hopes a new developer can plan on keeping it in the plans.

“I can’t speak for what that plan would look like going forward without having a robust discussion with a future developer,” Koos said.

Bush Development has been working with the Town of Normal on this project since 2018.

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