NORMAL - Downtown Normal is now "uptown." The City Council voted Monday night to change how it will refer to the central business district.
"We're uptown now," Mayor Chris Koos said after the unanimous council vote.
"I think the word 'uptown' is very distinguishing," said Councilwoman Cheryl Gaines. "It's new, more modern. We're moving toward sophistication."
While Councilman Jason Chambers admitted it's taken him awhile to come around to the word, he has accepted it.
"This isn't the same downtown," he said. "It's the same space but it's being used a lot differently."
Councilman Adam Nielsen agreed.
"This is a new place; a new destination. It deserves a new name," said Nielsen.
The town is in the midst of a comprehensive downtown renovation plan that includes a planned Marriott Hotel and Conference Center and numerous new buildings. There will be three parking garages - one of which also got the green light for construction Monday night.
"I think (the name change) eliminates confusion," said Nielsen. "It's downtown Bloomington and uptown Normal."
The new "uptown" reference will part of a new location finder system - called a brand - also approved by the council Monday. The brand will feature the word Normal with a graphic "o" that represents the planned traffic roundabout to be built at the intersection of Beaufort and North streets and the future Constitution Boulevard.
In the main brand, the "o" will be green like the green area in the center of the roundabout. But the color of the circle will change when the brand is used to help visitors find things in town.
For example, the circle would be dark green when used to show where a visitor can bicycle; dark pink to show where to shop; blue for education; and purple for entertainment.
The brand was designed by Cardosi Kiper Design Group of Oak Park with input from town staff, community representatives and the Downtown Normal Business Association.
Downtown business owners also were asked for input on the change from "downtown" to "uptown." Of the 32 businesses polled, 13 strongly preferred "uptown" while 19 preferred "downtown" or had not preference.
City Manager Mark Peterson said the town staff will begin making the change immediately, but it will take some time.
Meanwhile, work on a planned $10 million, 660-space parking garage just east of the new Bank of Illinois building along College Avenue is expected to begin in the spring. The garage will include town-owned commercial space on the first floor of the east side.
Brady Construction and Development will build "liner" housing and retail space that would butt up to the south side of the deck.
Spaces in the parking deck may cost 50 cents to $1 an hour, but will be free for library patrons and Bank of Illinois customers.