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Uptown Normal


Bloomington has been on the right track, even when it has been on the wrong track over the last several decades as it has struggled to preserve and revive its downtown.

That's according to Urban Historian Alan Lessoff of Illinois State University. Lessoff is the fall arts and sciences lecturer Thursday evening at the Bone Student Center.

Ralph Weisheit

The Mayor of Normal says the City Manager met almost all of his goals last year. And the ones Mark Peterson did not achieve had to do with government mandates getting in the way. Speaking on GLT's Sound Ideas, Mayor Chris Koos said Peterson is at the top of his game.

Underpass Study Will Be A 'Public, Dynamic Process'

Oct 3, 2016
Town of Normal

The Normal Town Council approved an engineering study that will examine the proposed underpass at Uptown Station more closely. The study will cost the town over $1.4 million and take about two years. City Manager Mark Peterson said people will be able to be actively involved in the study.

Town of Normal

The Town of Normal has picked Shelleigh Birlingmair as the Executive Director of the Children's Discovery Museum.

City Manager Mark Peterson said Birlingmair has a history of community involvement and extensive experience as a leader, volunteer, and advocate for not for profit organizations.

Two-year Underpass Study Could Move Forward

Oct 2, 2016
Ralph Weisheit / WGLT

Normal Town Council members will consider a $1.4 million engineering study for the proposed underpass at Uptown Station. Funding for the study was approved as part of the town's budget for this year.

Normal Library Board Evaluating Architects

Aug 30, 2016
Michael Hill / WGLT

Members of the Normal Library Board of Trustees are in the process of choosing an architectural firm for a planned library south of Uptown Circle. During a joint meeting with the Normal Town Council, Engberg Anderson Architects, OPN Architects and HGA presented their qualifications for designing the facility. 

Andrew Malone / Flickr via Creative Commons

Uptown Normal hosts not-your-average harvest festival, Saturday and Sunday, August 27 & 28.  It's the Sweet Corn Blues Festival, featuring over 20 tons of fresh sweet corn and two days of live blues on the CEFCU stage.

Ralph Weisheit

Mayor of Normal Chris Koos said there are "still a lot of moving pieces" when it comes to determining whether or not a railroad pedestrian underpass will be constructed in the Uptown district.

During Sound Ideas, Koos discussed the $1.5 million feasibility study agreement council members funded at Monday night's regular meeting.

Ralph Weisheit

Town of Normal Mayor Chris Koos is considering another run for Mayor.

During Sound Ideas Koos told GLT's Mike McCurdy he'd make a decision in "the next two to three weeks."

Melissa Schoper / WGLT

Construction on the One Uptown  Circle project in Normal should begin in August. The three story building will house a restaurant on the first floor, office space on the second, and high-end apartments on the top floor.  The Normal Town Council approved nearly $70,000 in design work from Eckenhoff Saunders Architects for its offices which will occupy the second floor.

Town of Normal

The Normal Town Council will vote Tuesday on whether to take the next step in relocating four department offices to a new development in Uptown Normal. Engineering, Inspections, Planning, and Facilities Management are slated to move there in late summer or early fall 2017.

Staff / WGLT

The library board in Normal recently agreed to study a potential new location in Uptown south of the train tracks. Library Director Brian Chase said the analysis will be complex but the end result will be much different than the current library.

David Locke / Creative Commons

The Town of Normal is cancelling its annual Pooch Parade and Pet Fair because of disease.

Melissa Schoper

The Normal Town Council approved design revisions to the proposed One Uptown Circle structure Monday night. The new mixed use development will be located next to the Hyatt Place in Uptown Normal. 

Eckenhoff Saunders Architects

A new mixed use development next to Hyatt Place in Normal, called One Uptown Circle, has to receive approval from the Normal Town Council Monday night before the project moves forward. The proposed building design requires the council to waive some of the town’s design codes for the area, but those waivers are considered to be quote “minor” according to a staff report.

    The Normal Town Council has approved the Destihl Brewery expansion site plan Monday night. The 6 acre expansion will be located on the East Side of Greenbriar Drive, North of Shepard Road, and will include a 47,000 square foot building with brewing, distribution, and event space. The new facility has the potential to more than double the current brewing capacity of Destihl. Councilman Jeff Fritzen was excited to see Destihl keep their business in the community.

Normal Council Approves Theater Renovations

Apr 4, 2016

The Normal Theater will receive some new updates later this year. During a regular meeting, the Normal Town Council approved $30,000 to replace the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Plans to make repairs to the roof are also in the works. City Manager Mark Peterson says he’s pleased the council is spending money on the theater. 

Charlie Schlenker

The Town of Normal is pulling back on its Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant application for a year. The $14 million plus request would have funded a pedestrian underpass below the train tracks in Uptown. Mayor Chris Koos says the town did not want to get in the way of other requests of the TIGER program.

Eckenhoff Saunders Architects

Even though the public price tag to create a new building on Uptown Circle is high, the Mayor of Normal said it's worth it to fill the so-called hole in the ground.

Normal To Vote On Enterprise Zone, Water Rate Hike

Mar 20, 2016

The Normal Town Council will consider making some changes to an Enterprise Zone northeast of Normal tonight. Destihl is planning to build a 47,000 square foot brewery at the location and wants to take advantage of the benefits before the zone expires in May.

Town of Normal

The Town of Normal is hiring two consultants to help secure federal TIGER funding for a probable underpass beneath the tracks near Uptown Station. During GLT's Sound Ideas, Mayor Chris Koos told Mike McCurdy the Town's eventual application is not in competition with a TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant application from the City of Bloomington to fund the Hamilton Road extension project.

Ralph Weisheit

The Town of Normal is hiring two consultants to help with the application process for federal grant funding for a railway pedestrian underpass at Uptown Station.

The Town will spend nearly $100,000 on the consultants.

WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff will work on the 2016 grant application for a feasibility study for an underpass at Uptown Station.  CHG & Associates will provide a year of lobbying services.

Normal plans to build a temporary at grade rail crossing, with a planned underpass to come later.

Michael Hill / WGLT

The Normal Public Library is working with OPN Architects to look at possible designs for a new public library to the south of Uptown Normal. The proposed project area came from Farr Associates as part of the Uptown 2.0 Master Plan, but no plans have been set in stone to build a library at that location

Brad Basham Photography / bbasham.com and Town of Normal

Filling the hole in the ground in Uptown Normal may not be the only upcoming project for that district. During Mayor Chris Koos' regular Sound Ideas interview he told GLT's Mike McCurdy that developers are showing "active" interest in plots other than the property adjacent to the recently completed Hyatt Place Hotel.

Michael Hill / WGLT

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.

Town of Normal

The Town of Normal may take the first step tonight in establishing another Tax Increment Financing district. The area would include the Mitsubishi plant, which will close in May, and surrounding businesses that supported the factory. 

Brad Basham Photography/www.bbasham.com

The Town of Normal is taking steps to build a temporary, level railroad crossing to allow Amtrak passengers to use a second platform, which will available when the state begins using high speed trains within the next year. The Town Council originally looked at building an overpass, or bridge, to allow passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists to cross the tracks as part of Constitution Trail, but that was put on hold when an underpass was proposed

Normal Looking At 'Status Quo' Budget

Jan 14, 2016
Brad Basham Photography / bbasham.com and Town of Normal

Next year's budget for the Town of Normal won't look much different from this year. The Town Council is working on the spending plan. City Manager Mark Peterson says the proposal is "a little higher, but, really, no major difference in basic operations."

Farr Associates/Town of Normal

The Town of Normal will likely pass on federal funding in hand to build a railroad track overpass at Uptown Station. Speaking on GLT's Sound Ideas Mayor Chris Koos says talks with the state and Union Pacific Railroad indicate an pass project is now likely. The project to allow pedestrian crossing of high speed rail tracks would take three to five years. This could leave the town holding the bag for the multi-million dollar cost, but Koos says he hopes not. 

Judith Valente

It took 49 years, but Normal's holiday festivities this December will include the town's first official African American Santas. In 1966, NAACP activist Merlin Kennedy tried to ride a float in Bloomington's Christmas parade dressed as Santa. He was threatened with arrest. At age 89, Kennedy is getting a chance to rewrite that story's ending.