This undated photo provided by the town of Normal shows a "parklet" — outdoor seating in a former parking space — in downtown Urbana. Normal is considering its first uptown parklet as a pilot project.

NORMAL — Uptown wine bar Stave will be the first local business to have outdoor seating in a former parking space, pending City Council approval.

On Monday, Normal's council will consider allowing a "parklet" in front of the business at 111 W. North St. at least through Oct. 15, with the possibilities of a longer stay and of more uptown parking turned into pedestrian spaces.

"The installation of on-street parklets for outdoor cafe seating is increasingly popular throughout the nation," including in Urbana, wrote Town Planner Mercy Davison in a memo to the council. "The draft pilot program is a low-risk way to evaluate the positives and negatives."

Davison wrote that the intent is to provide more space for pedestrians "where the sidewalk width is simply not enough to facilitate very much outdoor seating" — an issue that "becomes more important as the sidewalks fill with more shoppers, office workers and visitors, as has been the case in uptown."

She noted that some uptown business owners objected because of the lost parking — a possible obstacle to adding more parklets.

"If this were a successful amenity ... we need to gather much more information and come back to council with some defined parameters," said City Manager Pam Reece. "How do you determine a max quantity?"

Reece said staff has considered the safety implications of the proposal as well.

"I'm sure supervising the quantity (of alcohol) they serve their customers is a top concern to them," she said of Stave. "What makes it work is that in a central business district like uptown, it's not high-speed (vehicle traffic). ... Obviously we always want to be cautious because safety is our top priority."

Reece said Stave will use materials that are durable but that can be easily removed at the end of the pilot.

Council action to allow the parklet would include changes to the town's liquor code and public ways code.

The council meets 7 p.m. Monday on the fourth floor at Uptown Station.

In other business, the council will consider a plan for The Park at Constitution Trail Centre, an 85-unit, 13-building apartment complex, to be built on a 4.76-acre area east of the AMC Classic Normal 14 movie theater — formerly the Starplex — starting with a five-building section.

Price tag, rental rate and target demographic were not discussed when Normal's Planning Commission approved the plan this month; Davison said those fall outside the commission's criteria for approval.

The developer is Terry Blake, who declined comment after the commission meeting.

Davison said she doesn't know specifics of the project, but similar developments to the first phase, which will include 25 four-bedroom units, are sometimes built in a year's time.

Contact Derek Beigh at (309) 820-3234. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_beigh


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