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NORMAL — A new public library is the central feature of redevelopment south of the railroad tracks in a near-final draft of Normal's updated uptown redevelopment plan.

A one-acre site on Linden Street just south of City Hall would house a 68,000 square-foot, two-story structure as soon as 2018 under a plan presented Tuesday by designer Farr Associates of Chicago.

The plan also includes road modifications and a detailed design and construction schedule through 2021. It was set to be posted to the web Wednesday and considered by the council in late October. Funding details will be determined later, said City Manager Mark Peterson.

The new library location offers “excellent visibility from Uptown Circle and Linden” and “better access to a broad population including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, and drivers,” and it “retains the library as a significant uptown anchor institution,” according to a report prepared by Farr.

“Aligning it as the main focal point is a good strategic move,” said council member Kevin McCarthy of the library. “I like the rendering looking south.”

Proposed road modifications include turning College Avenue and Mulberry Street into two-way streets; terminating College at Fell Avenue; adding streets south of the railroad tracks; and narrowing Linden and Vernon Avenue by one lane on each side to install bike lanes.

Architect Doug Farr of Farr and Associates said redirecting through traffic from College to Mulberry “gives us another full block of uptown” to the north.

Expanding “Uptown South” would include completing Phoenix Avenue, which currently terminates at the city hall annex, as a through street and building two new streets linking to Phoenix.

Those streets would connect the library to residential and retail developments to be developed by private companies. Suggested additions include townhouses, a grocery store and a pharmacy.

The plan also suggests expanded medians on College, Mulberry and Vernon, as well as additions to the southwest and northeast corners at Beaufort and Broadway streets to accommodate pedestrians.

The proposal still includes a multi-use facility next to the Hyatt Place currently being developed with luxury apartments; and an underpass at the railroad tracks to connect Uptown North and Uptown South.

“It's ambitious, certainly, but I think we've proven we can handle ambitious,” Peterson said of the plan. “I'm looking forward to more discussion and implementation.”

Follow Derek Beigh on Twitter: @pg_beigh


Normal and McLean County Reporter

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