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NORMAL — Another high-rise could be coming to Uptown Circle.

Officials are considering proposals for a new building on the northeast side of the circle, including but not limited to 104 E. Beaufort St., to cost between $21 million and $30 million; one of the plans could be approved as soon as next week.

Construction could then start this year and finish in 2019 for the "Trail East" building, to include 18,000 square feet of new offices for Bloomington-based engineering firm Farnsworth Group. It also could house retail space, 6,000 square feet of office space for a technology company and other office tenants.

"Preference will be given to proposals which emphasize retail on the ground floor," according to a request for developer proposals (RFP) that Normal issued in December. "The town recognizes that a residential component may be necessary to make this development financially feasible."

Three developers responded to the RFP, said City Manager Mark Peterson, and staff members are reviewing the proposals — which have not been made public — to pick one for Normal City Council approval on Jan. 16.

"Generally speaking, development is a positive thing for the community, particularly at a time when we feel we don’t have as much development as we want or need,” said Peterson. "It’s going to create construction jobs, it’s going to generate income for the owners and it’s going to provide a wonderful office space for existing and possibly new business."

The town owns the property at 104 E. Beaufort St., currently a two-story building and adjacent parking lot that houses The Pod, an art and gift store that is closing next month. That parcel includes 55,900 square feet of usable space.

The town commissioned three sample building layouts for that space that were provided to prospective developers. They include: one continuous five-story building; two multi-story buildings with a courtyard in between; and two multi-story buildings with the northern building mostly facing College Avenue.

The development also could include 106 E. Beaufort St., a two-story building owned by Matthew Martin of Batavia that houses Windy City Wieners, and 108 E. Beaufort, a one-story building owned by the town that houses the Slingshot CoWork entrepreneurial development space.

"Proposals for one or two buildings will be considered. A single building proposal must include frontage on Uptown Circle or be situated to allow for a future building to be constructed with frontage on the circle," according to the RFP. "The town will negotiate the price of land with the chosen developer." 

Because the project is in the uptown tax increment financing district (TIF), increases in property value could be used for developer incentives, and because it's in a regional enterprise zone, the developer could receive rebates for state sales and income tax.

Follow Derek Beigh on Twitter: @pg_beigh


Normal and McLean County Reporter

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