Normal Unveils New Offices at 1 Uptown Circle, New Condos Available

Approved in 2011, the development will house Town of Normal offices for 15 years

Town of Normal employees are settling into their new digs on the second floor of 1 Uptown Circle.

Four Town departments--engineering, inspections, planning and zoning, and facilities management--with a total of 23 staff moved to the building in early December.

Director of Inspections Greg Troemel said the new building brings the once-separated departments from around 11,000 total square feet to 13,500 square feet of shared space. The new facility includes public restrooms, storage space, a break room, a locker room with showers, and open and private meeting rooms. 

“It was like Christmas coming early,” said Troemel. “Our planning and inspections space was very bizarre, detached and spread out, and not really functional.”

“Probably the biggest advantage to the departments that came over here is the shared resources,” said Troemel. “We share a lot of the same resources in the way of construction plans, so bringing us together is very efficient in terms of not duplicating sets of plans like we were doing for the last 32 years.”

“It’s been really helpful to have planning and inspections and engineering together, because we work together so much anyway,” said Town Planner Mercy Davison. Troemel said the shared space also allows the Town to be more responsive to inquiries. “If you were to try and get a similar question answered from a different municipality it might take you a day or two. Now we can try and get somebody to answer it in an hour.”

The space also leaves room to double the current occupant load if the Town decides to incorporate additional departments, Troemel said.

“This was quite opportunistic,” said Troemel, referring to the Town’s 15-year lease agreement with Chicago-based developer Tartan Realty Group.

The building existed as just a foundation for seven years after its original developer backed out of a 2005 agreement. In 2011, the Town approved Tartan’s proposal to redevelop the property into a hotel and mixed-use building. The project later split into two phases, with the Hyatt completed in phase one.

Other uses for the building include a "fine dining" restaurant on the first floor, the name of which has yet to be announced. The third and fourth floors house luxury condominiums with monthly rents ranging from $1,650 for a one-bed, one-bath condo to $4,200 for a three-bed, two-bath penthouse with private terrace, according to listings found on Apartments.com.

Uptown Circle Tartan Reality Development.jpg

As Tartan prepared to move forward with the mixed-use building in phase two, the group needed a “reliable tenant” for its commercial space at 1 Uptown Circle. In 2016, Council members authorized a project grant that contributed $2.75M to phase two and agreed to sign on as a tenant. Troemel said the Town saw this as an opportunity to support the project while relocating departments situated south of the train tracks. This relocation was an eventual piece of  the Town’s plan for the development of Uptown South.

The Town agreed to pay the first year’s rent at $20 per square foot with an additional $3.50 for the build-out of the space. The square foot lease rate will increase 2% over the lease term. The Town also pays all utilities and common area maintenance costs for its second floor space. Based on the lease term and rate increase, The Town will pay just under $4.9M over 15 years.

“It’s not inexpensive space, but [the other option was] going out and building 13,000 square feet. It would be several million dollars just to buy ground,” said Troemel. “This is right in the heart of Uptown, close to the legal and administrative and other teams that we work with.”

The planning and inspection departments were previously housed in the basement level of the old city hall at 100 East Phoenix Avenue. Troemel said while the Parks and Recreation department is using the space for additional storage, the Town has no immediate plans to fill the vacancy.

The Town owns half of the property at 305 South Linden Street, where the engineering department had been housed; a dentist’s office occupies the other half of the building. The department has yet to move infrastructure for its traffic control unit to the new offices. Troemel said that will likely take place in the spring.

Image Credits: Breanna Grow