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Moribund Warehouse In Normal To Get $16 Million Infusion

Town of Normal
An unfinished industrial property in north Normal could rise from the ashes if a development agreement is approved with Milwaukee-based Phoenix Investors.

A decaying, unfinished industrial property in Normal could become viable again if a development agreement is approved with a Milwaukee-based firm.

A newly created subsidiary of Milwaukee-based industrial real estate firm Phoenix Investors LLC intends to buy the long unfinished Wildwood Industries warehouse in north Normal and complete construction. Phoenix JCR Normal Industrial Investors LLC was registered in Delaware in late April.

Work on the 500,000-square-foot facility halted in 2008 as the Great Recession took hold and Wildwood Industries collapsed amid a financial fraud scheme that sent its owners to federal prison.

The Town of Normal tried to make the site attractive seven years ago by including it in a tax increment financing district. Until now there had been little activity. Had Phoenix Investors LLC not come forward, the TIF was set to expire on that location in December.

Town staff said weather has caused the structure to deteriorate and some existing construction will have to be redone.

Phoenix Investors specializes in reviving vacant and underperforming projects and finding tenants for those buildings. The company said on its website it has 29 million square feet of industrial, retail, office, and single tenant net-leased properties across 23 states.

There is room on the nearly 69-acre property to double the size of the facility, to 1 million square feet, according to documents prepared for the Normal Town Council.

The town said a proposed development agreement the council will consider Monday night allows for reimbursement of up to half the estimated $16 million investment from Phoenix Investors out of future tax revenues generated by the property. There would not be out-of-pocket town expenses except for Kerrick Road improvements. Town staff notes the town can recapture that from TIF revenue as well.

Staff said it is unlikely Phoenix will be able to get the full $8 million in potential reimbursement because the TIF is due to expire in 2036. Staff estimated total reimbursement will be about 20% of the investment discounted to present value. The agreement requires Phoenix to begin construction by December and be mostly done within 16 months. The completed facility could create about 50 jobs.

Phoenix Investors told the town it has five tenant prospects and is confident it will lease the facility.

The project came about through a contact with the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council.

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