Council Briefing: Developer Agreement Amendment Withdrawn, Library Parking Agreement Approved

 Normal Town Council members met Monday night with participants of Friends Forever, a program to host 10 Arab and Jewish youth from Israel in Normal for leadership and community service activities. (Photo: Breanna Grow)

Normal Town Council members met Monday night with participants of Friends Forever, a program to host 10 Arab and Jewish youth from Israel in Normal for leadership and community service activities. (Photo: Breanna Grow)

The developer of the One Uptown Circle building withdrew a request to amend its agreement with the Town before council members were set to consider the request Monday night.

The agreement with One Uptown Circle Inc. outlines the development of the five-story mixed-use building as part of phase two of Uptown Circle. Phase one saw the completion of The Hyatt Place Hotel. The Town committed a total of $7.85M for the project, including $5.1M to phase one and $2.85M to phase two.

The developer sought the Town’s permission to market the building’s ground floor as two separate units instead of one 6,700-square foot space as planned under the original agreement. Intended to house a full-service, upscale restaurant, the ground floor space has yet to attract a tenant. The developer believed dividing the space into two smaller units -- a 3,700-square foot restaurant and 3,000-square foot non-restaurant -- would prove a successful strategy.

Normal City Manager Pamela Reece said she had few details to share on the withdrawal, but plans to resume conversations with the developer soon. “We want that space to be filled as much as I imagine he does,” she said.

Normal Public Library Parking Agreement

Council members did approve an ordinance allowing the Normal Public Library to more than double its available parking through an agreement with a nearby property owner.

The operator of the Rutherford Suites apartment complex at 202 N. Fell St. will allow the library to use the parking lot across the street, just west of the library, for a $15,000 license fee, increasing the library’s total parking from 39 to 96.

While an existing agreement allowed the library to use the lot during the summer months, the new 5-year agreement reserves the parking lot for library use year-round.

Meeting with Friends Forever Teens

The Council also met with leaders and participants of Friends Forever, a program to host 10 Arab and Jewish youth from Israel in Normal for community service and leadership activities.

The two-week experience aims to break down stereotypes and foster friendships that continue to grow after participants return to Israel.

Friends forever member Rania told council members she made her first Jewish friend, Yogev, during the trip. Rania said she noticed Yogev’s smile when they first met -- “when you look at it, you smile immediately.”

She quickly learned they had much in common, despite ethnic and religious differences -- both hold regular prayer, fast with their families and eat a special Friday meal.

Normal Mayor Chris Koos highlighted the significance of the program, now in its fifth year.

“We’re so lucky to have you in our community. The work and what you learn while you’re here is important to the world. It may not seem like a lot to you, but you do a lot by doing this and committing to it.”