Trail West Project Waits In Wings As Trail East Construction Nears | WGLT

Trail West Project Waits In Wings As Trail East Construction Nears

Sep 4, 2019

Construction is scheduled to begin this fall on the $30 million mixed-use building that will rise on the northeast arc of Uptown circle. It is known as Trail East.

And during this week's Normal Town Council meeting, the next project on the Uptown to-do list came up for a mention: Trail West.

Mayor Chris Koos said that site on the northwest arc of the circle has a number of interested developers. The original Uptown plan called for a mix of retail, office, and residential.

But Koos noted the many changing dynamics in retail, as internet sales continue to shift the landscape.

"So is retail the best use for the ground floor of every mixed-use building? Current thinking is not necessarily," said Koos.

He said the ground floor of any building in Uptown cannot be dead space that is featureless. Whatever it is, he said it just has to "fit the ambience of Uptown."

"It would have to have glass. It would have to have activity that added to the street activity. What exactly that is? You know, the devil is in the details on that project," said Koos.

The mayor also said the project will be influenced by what happens with Trail East—and won't happen until after Trail East. That project has got off to a slower start in part because of litigation involving the artists who created a mural at the Trail East site.

Koos said down the road, after Trail West, would be Uptown 2.0, south of the railroad tracks. That will have a focus on expanding Uptown's housing options rather than retail.

"I think the intention of the council was that the residential would be more affordable than the class A space that currently exists around the circle," said Koos.

Demolition to clear the area for the Trail East building is slated for October. Koos said it's possible Uptown 2.0 may develop more slowly than expected as the town gets a handle on its pension obligations.

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