Construction could begin soon on Weldon Reserve homes after Normal council action
Adding about 50 homes to the Bloomington-Normal housing market may not seem like much, considering the housing gap in the Twin City area is about 8,000 dwellings. But it’s a step in the right direction, says Normal City Manager Pam Reece.
The Normal Town Council’s unanimous vote Monday approves the final plat for about half of Weldon Reserve’s 26-acre development, making way for 40 single-family lots and four attached-home lots.
"Certainly it's kind of a drop in the bucket, based on what we need. But council has approved a lot of developments this year with a lot of units to be on the horizon, so hopefully those move forward," Reece told WGLT after the meeting.
Leaders in McLean County say the community isn't moving quickly enough to close a housing gapcreated by workforce growth, spurred mostly by Rivian expansion.
Reece said Weldon Reserve's start will contribute by providing more housing opportunities.
"Everything makes a difference and is impactful," she said. "It takes time to build homes, and hopefully by this spring, and sometime in 2024, if we have 40 or 50 dwelling units, that would be great."
Monday's vote OKs Fairlawn Capital's filing of paperwork that signals a developer is ready to build, said Reece, noting when crews begin construction is at the developer's discretion.
"Some construction does get going in the fall, and then wrapping up in the spring if there's a mild winter, so it could start this month, she said.
Last year, after some controversy surrounding the developers’ plans for multiple attached-homes on the site’s northern edge, the council OK'd preliminary plans for the 26-acre site, but with a caveat.
Ditching the idea of including the new housing as part of Wintergreen subdivision, the Weldon Reserve name was born.
Weldon Reserve stands on the north side of Beech Street between the Pheasant Ridge and Wintergreen subdivisions. The main entrance will be off Beech, with a connecting drive on the northern edge to Wintergreen, via Bristlecone Drive.
Historic preservation contract
Also at Monday’s meeting, the council approved a $300,000 contract with Normal-based J. Spencer Construction to complete repairs on three historic properties.
"What we're able to do now is start work for weatherization. We've got some issues with deterioration," said Mark Clinch, Normal facilities and energy management director.
The scope of work includes some demolition, masonry infill and tuckpointing. Other work will include roof and soffit repairs, and window and siding repairs, he said.
J. Spencer was one of just two bidders, but the only one to meet the required terms.
One building getting attention is Sprague’s Super Service, 305 Pine St., on a stretch of Historic Route 66 heading into Normal. Another is Hewett House, 202 E. College Ave., home to the Ecology Action Center since 1994. That 860s-era building is named for its original owner, Edwin C. Hewett, who served as the third president of what’s today Illinois State University.
The third property to see repairs is Broadview Mansion, 1301 S. Fell Ave. In July, the council approved a separate contract for work on the bell tower there. Clinch said that's because the repairs were simpler and focused on masonry only, so it made sense to isolate the work with a specialist.
In other business, the council OK’d:
- Awarding bids to six companies for a variety of water treatment chemicals. The town estimates the cost of the chemicals, for drinking water, will be about 17% higher than last year. The contracts begin in November, and run one year.
- Spending about $177,000 to buy three pickup trucks from Taylorville-based Bob Ridings Fleet Sales. Parks and Recreation staff will use the vehicles.
- Extending the lease of the Ecology Action Center by five years.
- Selling a town-owned property, at 1210 S. Adelaide St.