NORMAL — An uptown landowner will need to keep working if he wants to receive $15,000 in promised town grant funding for a redevelopment project.
Normal City Council voted 4-3 Monday to deny that money to Chuck Feeney for work at 208 Parkinson St., which he's overhauled over the last 18 months thanks in part to $25,000 in already-paid grant funding, because the finished product ended up very different from what the town was promised.
The town staff gave Feeney that message previously, and he proposed additional improvements he can make in exchange for getting the additional money, but council members said they aren't enough.
The former Feeney Oil building, which sat vacant for a decade, is now a Stout Chiropractic office.
Mayor Chris Koos, Kathleen Lorenz, Kevin McCarthy and Scott Preston voted against paying the grant money. Chemberly Cummings, Jeff Fritzen and R.C. McBride voted to release it.
The biggest change from plans Feeney showed the town in 2016 was the omission of a stair-step style plaza in front of the building that proved impossible due to drainage requirements.
A detention basin is now where the plaza was planned to be, and Feeney has proposed adding landscaping around it.
"It seems to me that the project's scope has changed fundamentally, and ... our grant funding should change subsequently to match that scope," said McCarthy. "I understand that (change) was through no specific fault of the owner ... still, the scope is broadly different. I'm disinclined to support this."
Another change is installation of a small canopy directly on the west side of the building rather than the planned wider one in the plaza. Feeney proposed adding wall hangings on that side of the building to cover the difference and adding more fabric to the canopy, which is now partially exposed metal.
"The town pledged to contribute $40,000. We might not have gotten what we thought we were getting," said McBride, "but given that staff seems satisfied that the changes are good enough ... therefore, I don't think there's a good enough reason to not follow through on what we pledged to do."
After the meeting, Peterson said he expects Feeney to contact the town about how to proceed. Feeney did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
"What we recommend is, if a property owner finds himself or herself in this situation ... before they start, they come and ask for a modification," said Peterson. "Ordinarily, the property owner would have said, 'Time out, I'm not going to be able to do what I had planned.' ... They chose to proceed."
Feeney planned to spend $300,000 on the upgrades. He said in 2016 that after the site is finished, he'll look to redevelop properties behind it — near the intersection of Parkinson and Oak streets — that he owns as well.
Jeffrey Stout's former office at 214 Linden St. is now vacant.