Town of NormalNORMAL – Normal Town Council members heard at their meeting on Monday at Normal City Hall that, partly because of an ongoing downturn in the economy, the developers of One Main Development may scale down the project slated for a mixed use building planned for the west end of Uptown Normal’s traffic circle.

Rick Jebb, managing broker for Prudential Snyder Commercial Real Estate, said the Bloomington firm has been looking at how this project could be completed from a number of different perspectives.

He said the firm did a marketing feasibility study which led Prudential Snyder officials to believe the project needed to be shifted downward toward building apartments rather than the originally proposed upscale condominiums. He said a redesign of the building would mean the building going from 45 luxury condos to between 35-40 apartments

When the U. S. economy sank into recession in October 2008, work on the project ceased. Since that time, there has been fencing blocking off a large hole in the ground at that location.

Jebb said he believes his group would know something about whether he has financial backing on the project in the next two weeks. Provided the financing being hoped for by Prudential Snyder comes through, Jebb said steel for the project could be ordered by October, and construction could begin as early as December.

Jebb was joined in his presentation to Council members by Jon “Cody” Sokolski, chief executive officer of One Main Development. Council member Sonja Reece asked Sokolski if he thought the next few weeks would help his firm put the funding for the project in place.

Sokolski told Reece, “yes, I think the market may be improving a little bit,” thus helping his firm get started on the project.

City Manager Mark Peterson told Council members, “One Main Developers has left no stone unturned toward seeking financing.”

But while Council members, like Cheryl Gaines, appeared willing to give the developers time to obtain necessary funds, fellow Council member Adam Nielsen reminded Jebb and Sokolski that the Town has managed to see other construction projects, such as the recently opened Uptown Crossing building open despite the current economy.

“I wish you well. I really do,” Nielsen told Jebb and Sokolski. “But a hole in the ground isn’t adding to the tax base of the town.” Nielsen said he was willing to give One Main Development two weeks to find financing needed.

But if One Main Development comes back to the Council with no financing plan, Neilsen said, “then maybe, there’s another developer out there.”

Reece told Jebb and Sokolski, “we don’t have other developers waiting in the wings.”

Jebb said the goal his firm and One Main Development have is to get construction restarted later this year.

Council member Jason Chambers commented that, by changing the project from condos to apartments, One Main Development “was not staying true to the original idea. Apartments are a significant change from the original plan, which included condos.”

Mayor Chris Koos said this project has not been easy, what with times where there were “false starts” at times when it was thought construction would resume.

Zoning Code Amendments Pass: Council members began the night tackling the issue of discussing some proposed zoning code amendments pertaining to Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) within the Town’s Parking Impact Zone. Town Staff began working with Normal Planning Commission members began work on this in February. By May, a list of zoning code amendments had been drawn up by the Planning Commission.

Town Staff also presented a list of amendments to Normal’s Community Design Standards (CDS) CDS have remained largely untouched since 2003. Among the proposed code changes were:

• Permit up to half the trees screening parking lots from public Right-Of-Ways to be ornamental rather than all-shade varieties.

• Reduce the amount of green space required on a site located within the Town’s Parking Impact Zone from 20 percent to 15 percent. This is something that would affect both commercial and residential sites.

• Require decorative outdoor lighting to have interior louvers to prevent glare when brightness reaches a minimum.

• Reduce the requirements for significant tree replacements by either capping the amount that could be assessed to any project or cutting in half the cost of planting replacement trees from $500 per tree to $250 per tree.

There were 10 proposed changes, but the tree replacement cost item created a conversation among Council members. In explaining the change for the reduction in replacement cost, City Manager Mark Peterson told Council members, “We don’t think we are giving away the store. We just looked at it as reducing the cost.”

Peterson said there were some properties in town, some between 50 to 60 years old, which were still income producers. He said for the developers to tear those down and rebuild on those same lots would be “financially difficult for the developers.”

Reece asked Town Planner Mercy Davison what role developers played in creating the changes suggested. Davison said developers hesitated coming to public hearings for fears they would be seen as promoters of one project sought over others.

On the tree replacement item, Council member Cheryl Gaines said she could not vote for all of the items as a group until the item about tree replacement cost was removed from it.

A motion was made to vote on the tree replacement cost issue separately from the rest, leaving the replacement cost at $500. Council members voted 4-3 to, in effect, reject keeping the replacement cost for trees at $500 per tree. Gaines voted yes to keep the cost at the current rate, along with Mayor Chris Koos and Council Member Jason Chambers. Council members Adam Nielsen, Jeff Fritzen, Chuck Scott, and Sonja Reece voted to reduce the tree replacement cost amount.

A vote was then taken on the remaining proposed changes, which included the $250 per tree replacement provision. The vote on that was 6-1 in favor, with Gaines voting against it.

Omnibus Agenda Items Approved: Omnibus agenda items approved by the Council included:

• Approval of minutes of the Council’s regular meeting held Sept. 7, 2010.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of Sept. 15, 2010.

• A motion to approve revised guidelines and change the name of the Town of Normal Housing Rehabilitation Program to the Homeowners Emergency Repair and Accessibility Program.

• A resolution authorizing execution of a Wireline Crossing Agreement with Union Pacific Railroad Co.

• A resolution conditionally and partially approving the final plat of the 2nd resubdivision of Wal-Mart/Parkway Plaza Subdivision by Expedited Process.

This entry was posted on Monday, September 20th, 2010 at 10:57 pm and is filed under Normal Town Council, The Normalite. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Comments are closed.