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State Megasites grant to subsidize Interchange City West road and utility access in northwest Normal

Looking through an open metal gate with a red diamond and a "road ends" sign posted, gravel road dead-ends in the distance. Beyond that, a busy expressway is barely seen in the distance.
Lauren Warnecke
West of Interstate 74, Hovey Avenue is a gravel, dead-end road that does not connect to Hovey east of the train tracks. With support from an Illinois Megasites Investment Program grant, Stark Management will extend Hovey to make access to the 279-acre Interchange City West property more accessible.

An undeveloped site in northwest Normal known as Interchange City West is about to get even more attractive for potential buyers.

The 279-acre site at an ideal location near Rivian and close to Interstate 55 and Interstate 74 recently received a $1.4 million grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to prepare for commercial real estate development.

Bloomington-based Stark Excavating plans to use the grant money to build a bridge and extend Hovey Avenue to the east and Interstate Drive to the north, increasing access to the property. Hovey currently dead ends at White Oak Road and Maple Hill Road, with I-74 and railroad tracks separating the two ends.

On the south end of the property, Interstate Drive will be extended to the McLean County Fairgrounds.

Owner David Stark said he also plans to install a water main on the east side of Wylie Drive that currently cannot support building. Stark said his company, Stark Excavating, has been filling the area with dirt from another project for years.

“A water main needs to be installed there now,” he said. “Then all utilities will be available to all of the sites.”

The property is divided into commercial parcels to be sold. They range in size from 13 acres to 22 acres. The state money will cut about 20% off the total $6.2 million infrastructure project. Stark Excavating will cover the additional cost.

“I probably would have waited until I had some of these properties sold before I would have done the improvements,” Stark said. “This is definitely going to speed it up.”

Stark anticipates the work being done by late 2024, indicating there is a lot of interest in the property; the planned improvements will make it even more desirable.

“It’s definitely a big help for myself and Interchange City West,” he said.

The Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority also received $1.3 million grant that will go toward a new intermodal freight transportation center. They were two of only nine proposals statewide collectively awarded $23 million aimed at megasite development projects.

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Lauren Warnecke is a reporter at WGLT. You can reach Lauren at lewarne@ilstu.edu.
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