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Watch now: Trail East project set to begin Oct. 15

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Traffic continues to pass the mural in the 100 block of E. Beaufort St. in uptown Normal, Thursday, June 3, 2021. The lot could eventually become the future Trail East Building site.

NORMAL — Demolition of three buildings in the northeast corner of uptown circle is planned to begin Oct. 15 and the area will be replaced by a four-story multi-use building in about two years.

The Normal Town Council voted 6-1 Monday night to approve an amendment to the Trail East project that allows a mural to remain in place and also lowers the town’s monetary contribution to the project.

The mural currently at 104 E. Beaufort St. will be incorporated into the new building’s interior area.

“That mural will no longer be relocated. It will be preserved in place and I think that’s a win for the community,” Normal City Manager Pam Reece said.

The buildings at 104, 106 and 108 E. Beaufort St. will be demolished and replaced by the building developed by Iowa-based Bush Development LLC. The nearly 95,000 square foot building will stretch parallel to Constitution Boulevard from uptown circle to College Avenue.

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This Farnsworth Group rendering shows what Bush Construction's future four-story Trail East building in uptown Normal could look like as viewed from the intersection of Uptown Circle and North Street in uptown Normal.

Monday’s vote came nearly three years after the Normal Town Council approved the initial project, which originally called for a five-story building. Developers recently altered their plan to a four-story building.

Other changes to the project include a reduction in estimated construction cost from $30 million to $28.6 million, and a decrease in the maximum Tax Increment Financing contribution from $8.43 million to $6 million over the life of the TIF.

The project had been delayed several times and it received heavy pushback from residents who didn’t want the historic buildings demolished or the mural to be lost.

In April 2019, 13 of 50 artists who painted the mural filed a lawsuit in an attempt to save it from being destroyed. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit after Normal town officials promised to move the mural.

“I just have to ask this question: Will this really happen?” Council Member Kathleen Lorenz said to town staff and developers. “Can you give me assurances that this will happen because it hasn’t happened for a long time and how do we know that it’s really going to happen?”

Normal Town Attorney Brian Day said there were a few holdups. He said developers had to provide the town with “sufficient” financial data before completing the deal to show “that they’ve got the resources necessary to complete the project.”

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This Farnsworth Group rendering shows what Bush Construction's future four-story Trail East building in uptown Normal will look like as viewed from the intersection of College Avenue and Constitution Boulevard facing uptown Normal.

Day also said they had been waiting on the federal and state government to issue tax credits and fulfill funding obligations.

Council Member Stan Nord was the lone ‘No’ vote on the project, arguing that there’s no guarantee that whichever business moves into the building will decide to keep the mural.

“They’ve got a responsibility to the artists for not destroying the mural – that’s what the legal requirement is for them,” Day said.

He also noted that the wall the mural is painted on was originally an interior wall of a now-demolished building.

“When we demolished the building that was next to it, the wall wasn’t actually prepped when they painted it and the paint that they used is not going to last forever,” Day said. “There’s already tuck-pointing issues and other issues that will only get worse if that wall stays an exterior wall, so we’re actually preserving or helping preserve the mural to last longer by moving it to the interior than it would be if it remained where it was or moved to some other exterior location.”

Another change to the project under the new amendment is a reduction of parking spaces allotted to the new building from 300 to 200. That reduction saves the town 100 parking spaces in the College Avenue parking deck.


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