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NORMAL - A plan to replace a burned-out student apartment building near City Hall with a larger and taller building was tabled by the Normal City Council Monday after members voiced numerous concerns about he project.

"The sheer size and the close proximity to the trail gives me a lot of concern," said Mayor Chris Koos.

"It's way too much for a small area," said Councilman Parker Lawlis.

But size was only part of the concern. Developers Ralph Endress and Ken Verkler also wanted tax increment financing of up to $601,000 for the $4.8 million project.

"If TIF money is involved, it needs to be developed to a higher quality than what we saw," said Koos.

"If we use TIF funds, it's a good incentive to get it to go well with going on around it," said Councilman Jason Chambers.

The complex would be just south of a planned downtown transportation center and southwest of the Children's Discovery Museum.

"It's a fairly high-profile building in terms of the downtown and south downtown," Koos said.

The proposal would raze the 20-unit apartment building at 102 W. Phoenix St. but leave an attached 11-unit building that was undamaged by a May fire.

The new five-story, 28-unit building would face Constitution Trail and front stoops would go beyond the property line. Some parking would be provided on the first floor; a nearby lot would have stacked parking.

The developers asked the town to waive the zoning code and allow up to six unrelated people to live in each of the four units on the top floor. Code allows a maximum of four unrelated people in a unit.

"We're encouraging parking on the street in that area," said Lawlis, pointing out the fact that the complex would have 56 parking spaces but up to 84 bedrooms.

The complex falls in the South Downtown District which requires only two parking spaces per bedroom.

Bloomington attorney Frank Miles said the developers wanted to get started as soon as possible so the new apartment could be ready for occupancy in August.

But Koos said "there needs to be more work done" and encouraged the developers to come up with something more innovative.

"The mass of building was intentional," Miles said because South Downtown Design guidelines indicated the town wants something bigger.

"It's hard to guess what the council wants," he said.


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