Trail East Design Goes To Normal Town Council | WGLT

Trail East Design Goes To Normal Town Council

Jan 5, 2019

If the Town of Normal has to move a brick wall containing a mural in Uptown, it might charge the former tenants of an art co-op for the cost of the move.

That's a proposal going before the Normal Town Council on Monday.

The mural is on the side of a building slated for demolition to make way for the Trail East project, a five-story, multiuse building on the northeast side of Uptown Circle.

The Uptown Normal mural.
Credit Bush Construction / Town of Normal

One of the former tenants has suggested a federal law, the Visual Artists Rights Act, requires preservation of the mural.

City Manager Pam Reece said the lease has a clause that could be used in a suit to recover costs from moving the wall.

"The tenants who occupied the space had a signed lease agreement indemnifying the town under certain conditions, and we would invoke the indemnification clause and seek reimbursement if we are required to move it," said Reece.

Reece said the former tenant who has raised the potential of a suit under the federal law also owes the town money dating from the time of the lease.

Reece said it's not clear yet whether the law does require the town to preserve the mural. If not, she says, it will be torn down.

"Basically we don't want to delay the developer's project and we also don't want to violate any laws which we may fall under," said Reece.

An architect's rendering of the Trail East project on Uptown Circle.
Credit Town of Normal / Bush Construction

The cost of moving the wall somewhere else could approach $100,000. Reece said it has not been determined where the wall and the mural might go.

She said the wall in question is not in good shape and was never intended to be an exterior wall. She said it would need tuckpointing and that would remove part of the mural. 

Reece said town staff is asking permission of the council to secure a reimbursement agreement with the former lease holders, though it has not yet been possible to find and contact all of those involved. 

She said the decision whether the Visual Artists Rights Act applies to the mural will likely be made soon.

Bush Construction is presenting its design concept for Trail East to the council on Monday evening.

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