Normal council passes long-awaited developments at Monday’s council meeting

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NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — Two long-awaited and discussed developments in the Town of Normal are now one step closer to completion.

Monday night, Town council approved both the Trail East Redevelopment project in Uptown Normal as well as rezoned the One Normal Plaza development.

The Trail East Redevelopment project is located at 31 Uptown Circle and is going to be smaller than originally presented years prior.

The project has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Monday’s meeting, leaders passed a four-story, mostly residential development, smaller than the orginal five-story plan.

Councilmember Kevin McCarthy said the approval was a win-win for the town and developer.

“We get some sorely needed housing. Everybody in the community knows we’ve got a shortage of housing and a lot of new employees coming online with the likes of Rivian and other potential new businesses coming on,” McCarthy said.

In the new plans, developers will keep the mural and incorporate it into the interior of the completed building. McCarthy said it’s a great compromise, but realizes it won’t satisfy everyone.

“They came around when they were redesigning the building and took a look at was there an opportunity and we’ve got a private developer that feels like they can do that safely and manage it,” McCarthy said. “I think it’s a great solution, a great compromise.”

Council members also voting 6-1 to rezone the area known as One Normal Plaza located near Lincoln and Beech Streets.

With the rezoning, it stays a mixed-use commercial property, however, it more clearly defines what space is used for what by dividing them into residential, commercial, or green space.

McCarthy said this rezoning was a huge win for him personally because unlike the original zoning, it protects around 50-60% of the areas green spaces, keeping the “park-like” atmosphere.

He said the goal is to give the area new life by increasing businesses’ ability to locate there if they choose to.

“We haven’t seen as much of that economic development spurred in that area as we believe the potential is and so there’s this balancing act of preserving the neighborhood/residential and parklike feel but also stimulating business and I think we got that done,” McCarthy said.

According to the city manager, it’s the first major reassessment of the property since the 1980s.

Monday’s plans were amended after council member Stan Nord brought up resident concerns about alcohol sales. Nord’s amendment eliminated the line of “wine and liquor stores” as a permitted use in the second subarea of the reclassification.

Council agreed with him and approved the amendment 5-2.

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