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Normal council OKs 500-unit Carden Springs housing plan, construction could begin in fall

Normal Inspections Director Greg Troemel listens during the Normal Town Council meeting Monday, April 3, 2023 at Normal City Hall in Uptown Station.
Michele Steinbacher
/
WGLT
Normal Inspections Director Greg Troemel listens during the Normal Town Council meeting Monday, April 3, 2023 at Normal City Hall in Uptown Station.

The Carden Springs housing development is moving forward with nearly 500 apartments and townhouses, after the Normal Town Council moved the project forward on Monday.

The 36-acre site in northeast Normal stands north of Beech Street, bordered by Towanda Avenue and the property lines of Pfitzer Road homes.

Monday's action included the town annexing the agricultural land, rezoning it as medium-density residential, and then, approving the developer's preliminary plan. The council OK’d an annexation agreement with Springfield-based Fairlawn Capital in January, so Monday’s unanimous votes from the council didn’t come as a surprise.

While some of the planned unit development's infrastructure construction will begin this summer, work on the actual buildings likely will be later.

"They'll do that in phases. I'll be hopeful we'll see some construction before the snow flies," said Greg Troemel, Normal inspections director.

Also Monday, the council OK’d its annual spending plan for $700,000 in Community Development Block Grants, approved a nearly $800,000 contract for its annual improvement plan for town sidewalks and access ramps, and discussedIllinois House Bill 3337 — legislation that aims to codify into law Normal's existence as an incorporated town.

Carden Springs brings variety of housing, amenities

Carden Springs will feature a variety of multifamily housing units and common recreational amenities and open spaces, including an outdoor pool, pickleball courts, a dog park and a walking trail.

"This is a site that's going to be under construction for two or three years," Troemel told the council, adding it's likely the project will be divided into three phases.

He said people might start moving into Carden Springs units next year.

In this rendering of Carden Springs included in its preliminary plan, Fairlawn Capital illustrates the plan for multiple buildings, and a path to traverse the property.
Courtesy
/
Town of Normal
In this rendering of Carden Springs included in its preliminary plan, Fairlawn Capital illustrates the plan for multiple buildings, and a path to traverse the property.

As a planned unit development, Fairlawn builds and maintains roads, and handles trash removal and snow clearing. That saves Normal taxpayers money, noted council member Stan Nord.

But the town does provide utilities, such as sewer and water, and safety assurances for residents and their property, such as fire and police service, said council member Karyn Smith.

A housing study released a year ago shows the Bloomington-Normal community needs an additional 4,300 housing units. But Troemel said that number is fluid, and can change with workforce needs.

Community development grants program

The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program helps municipalities distribute state aid for housing and economic opportunities for low- to moderate-income individuals.

As part of the state’s disbursement of its CDBG funding, it requires a municipality to submit an annual action plan for how it intends to use the money.

On Monday, the council OK'd a plan to spend about $225,000 on public facility improvements; about $260,000 for homeowner housing rehab; and about $75,000 for converting historic property into affordable apartments for seniors.

Several other funded categories include down payment assistance for qualified home buyers, a regional housing initiative, and a public services program to assist the Unity Community Center and the PATH agency's work with homeless people.

J.G. Stewart to handle sidewalk, ramp, upgrades

The council voted to award a $773,345 contract to Bloomington-based J.G. Stewart Contractors to oversee the town's 2023 miscellaneous sidewalk improvements. Stewart submitted the lowest of two bids.

That's up from last year's $650,000 Normal dedicated to those projects, said City Manager Pam Reece.

The fund allows residents a 50/50 program for funding sidewalk and driveway upgrades. The town also uses the money to address various sidewalk repairs, build new sidewalk segments, and to improve accessibility ramps.

In other business, the council:

  • Heard from Nord that he opposed council member Kevin McCarthy speaking on behalf of Normal, in Springfield, during the push for HB3337. That bill passed in the House on Friday. If it becomes law, Normal’s status as an incorporated town would be codified into law, putting an end to a months-long legal dispute over Normal’s form of government. City attorney Brian Day responded at the meeting, and called "absurd" an interpretation being discussed that the law would result in the council not being elected.
  • Rejected an apparel bid to cover Normal Parks and Recreation Department needs for embroidery and screen printing. The sole bid from New York-based Jonah’s Enterprises was about $64,000, which Normal leaders deemed too high.
  • Approved a three-year contract with Gateway Fireworks for Fourth of July displays. The town budgeted $45,000, but this contract is under that, averaging $38,000 per year.
  • Announced several committee appointments and re-appointments for town boards, commissions and committees. New appointments include Justin Vickers, to Historic Preservation; Tim McCue and Jessica Woods to the planning commission; and Craig Queen to zoning board.

Michele Steinbacher was a WGLT correspondent, joining the staff in 2020. She left the station in 2024.