Preservation panel urges council to stop East Beaufort Street demolitions

Uptown mural
Normal’s Historic Preservation Commission is opposed to demolishing buildings on Beaufort Street to make way for the Trail East development. (Save the Uptown Mural and Historic Buildings Facebook page)

 

By Howard Packowitz

NORMAL – Opponents of an office plaza in Uptown Normal won a temporary victory Tuesday.

The town’s historic preservation commission voted 3-2 against granting demolition permits for three buildings on Beaufort Street that have to be torn down to make way for the five-story Trail East building, to be located on the northeast portion of Uptown Circle.

Mayor Chris Koos said the decision isn’t a shock, but the council has the final say. Demolition can begin if council members take no action over the next 30 days.

“I’ll hear from council members. (City Manager) Pamela Reece will hear from council members on what they want to do or what they do not want to do,” said Koos.

“We have 30 days to make a determination. So, we’ll see what happens,” the mayor also said.

Koos said a 30 day delay for this type of reason was factored into project timelines. Monday night, the council voted unanimously to provide additional tax breaks to the developer to help with increasing costs of the 30 million dollar complex.

Council members were also unified in accepting a contingency plan in case the town government is ordered by the court to move a colorful mural on one of the buildings tapped for demolition.

Koos said the town has no reason to apologize for its preservation efforts, having won awards for preserving The Normal Theater and the Broadview Mansion.

“We have given significant dollars to 22 historic buildings in the Uptown area to help preserve those buildings,” said Koos.

“Outside of Uptown, around the community, we’ve done a lot for historic preservation,” Koos also said.

Howard Packowitz can be reached at howard.packowitz@cumulus.com

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