The Normal Town Council is supporting a $10 million bond to finish funding the new Fire Department Headquarters next to Illinois State University and pay their portion of the property development next to Hyatt Place. The bond will also be used for additional projects, pending council approval.
The NFD Headquarters project received some money from a bond passed in 2014, and this new bond fully funds the plan with an additional $4 million.
The development next to Hyatt Place is part of the original agreement to build the hotel and will include five stories with luxury apartments, office space, and retail space. That contribution amounts to $2.8 million. The council will see a presentation on that during its first meeting in March.
The remaining $3.2 million can be used for multiple projects in Normal. City Manager Mark Peterson says the town is at an advantage to borrow $10 million, even though a portion of the funding has not been set aside for specific projects. "Our financial advisor encouraged us to go ahead and take the whole ten, because we're getting extremely favorable interest rates." Peterson says "it's probably the closest thing to free money that we're ever going to find" when it comes to borrowed funds.
Some of the projects that could receive funding include renovations of the Community Activity Center and changes to the College Avenue Parking Deck, but Peterson says they'll most likely focus on two main issues. "The highest priorities would be, probably, land acquisition for the next two fire stations. Now, we're not going to build those right away, but we’d like to get the land acquired. The other is the underpass feasibility study.”
Officials are waiting to see if the underpass study will receive federal and state money. Additional projects will be prioritized and brought to the council at a later date, but more projects could receive funding if Normal doesn’t have to foot the bill for the underpass study.
The council also approved a study that will look at establishing a TIF district at the Mitsubishi Plant, which is closing in May, and supporting businesses. Council members will consider whether to establish the TIF once the study is complete.