Apartment Complex Planned Near AMC's Starplex Theater in Normal

 Illustrations by project architect Ross Gould show the planned exterior of the townhomes at "The Parks." (Illustration: Town of Normal)

Illustrations by project architect Ross Gould show the planned exterior of the townhomes at "The Parks." (Illustration: Town of Normal)

The Normal Town Council will consider a new apartment complex at its next meeting May 21.

Developer Terry Blake of Normal plans to build 85 units in 13 building clusters across 4.7 acres at the Constitution Trail Centre east of AMC's Starplex Theater.

The initial phase of “The Parks” consists of five clusters of five townhomes – 25 total – with a majority 4-bedroom, 2-bath units, and will also complete the development’s 149-space parking lot.  A lease agreement with Starplex will provide another 21 spaces.

Future phases will include a mix of townhome and apartment-style units with 1, 2 and 3 bedrooms.

The Town’s Planning Commission unanimously approved plans for the project’s first phase Thursday evening.

The developer will also build a sidewalk connection to the adjacent Constitution Trail.

The project includes a perimeter of landscaped green space and a 27,000-square foot central park area.

“It very truly is going to be a park-like setting,” said project architect Ross Gould.

Blake said he has developed other properties in the area since 2007 for commercial use, but was not available following the meeting to speak to those developments.

“We’re pretty excited about this,” said Town Planner Mercy Davison. “This is considered infill development,” she said, explaining the Town’s comprehensive plan identifies the area as a top priority for development because of its access to existing amenities.

A Connect Transit bus route stops within two blocks of the development site, and the surrounding area includes a Schnucks grocery store and several restaurants.

“Really you couldn’t pick a more appropriate place if you’re going to build several multi-family units.”

Davison couldn’t speak to an anticipated price for the units.

“When it comes to zoning and approving things for this process, the rental rates of the unit is not an issue. It’s not a code issue so it’s not something we would evaluate.”

Assuming council members approve the plans, Davison said construction on phase one shouldn’t take more than a year to complete.

Thursday’s meeting was only the second for the planning commission this year; without any projects to consider, its January, February and April, meetings were canceled. Davison said the commission’s June meeting will also likely be canceled.

She said the trend began over the last few years.

“Development is down...When I started, there were never planning commission meetings canceled. And in the last two or three years, we’ve canceled maybe half...and we would have agendas in years past where we would have five or six items of this magnitude and that wasn’t a shock. So now we don’t have a ton of big projects.”