Normal Council will consider a memorandum of understanding with the new project developer

NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — A years-long project for the Town of Normal is seeking new life at Monday night’s town council meeting.

The Town Council is being asked to consider entering into a memorandum of understanding with an Iowa-based developer, Eagle View Partners, for developing the Trail East and Trail West subdivision of Uptown.

Council has been seeing and reviewing proposals for the development since 2017. Last year, construction was slated to begin in October, but the project came to a screeching halt after the original developer pulled out after a three-year involvement.

After putting out a request for developers in November, the memorandum of understanding with Eagle View Partners is an agreement to enter into a period of negotiations. Mayor Chris Koos called it the first step in restarting the redevelopment of these two areas in Uptown.

“We’re happy to get this thing moving again and the project is going to change quite a bit,” Koos said.

The large-scale, mixed-use space has been part of the Town’s long-range plan for years. Originally, the redevelopment of Trail East and West was drawn up pre-pandemic and was heavy on office space, but now Koos said those plans have been significantly altered.

“There’s just not a lot of demand for office space right now so it’s really going to be primarily residential, I’d say about 80% of the building will be residential,” Koos said.

The total space of the two buildings will be just over 198,000 sq. feet and will bring 150 residential units across the two, six-story buildings. The rest of the space will be used for shops, and restaurants and still feature some commercial office space. Koos said a development like this would “finish” the Uptown area.

“It’s a missing piece down here to have non-student-oriented residential; there’s a demand for it, the one building we do have is 100% occupied with a waiting list,” Koos said.

Owners of The Garlic Press on the Trail West side have supported the project since the beginning. Co-owner Sarah McManus said she’s glad to see someone taking an interest in investing in Uptown Normal.

“It’s going to help our local economy, there’s going to have more vibrancy in Uptown specifically,” McManus said. “What business wouldn’t love more people living right under their very footprint or right there.”

McManus said she will be attending Monday’s meeting to learn more about the project’s possibilities.

“From the drawings, it looks like a creative and attractive build,” McManus said.

Koos adds that Eagle View Partners has had success on similar projects in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He said he doesn’t expect any construction to start until the spring of 2023.

Also on the agenda, council will be asked to consider spending $311,000 on repairs to a historic bridge in the town.

The wooden Camelback Bridge that crosses over Constitution Trail at Virginia Avenue is in need of many maintenance repairs.

Some work includes replacing the bracing rods that support it, replacing the wooden guardrails, and replacing the wooden driving surface. Some work was originally slated to be completed last summer, but the bids were rejected due to being higher than expected.

Town staff state in council documents that repairing the bridge now will prevent costlier repairs in the future.

Both items will be voted on at the Town Council meeting, Monday night at 7.