The empty space in the Uptown Station parking deck will house the new University Galleries art gallery. (Photo courtesy of Dara Brockmeyer)
By Stephanie Pawlowski
NORMAL - The empty storefront space in the Uptown Station parking garage will house a new art gallery.
City Manager Mark Peterson said he offered the space to Illinois State University Galleries and after months of negotiations, the two came to an agreement. He said the lease amount is unknown for now because it will be based on the cost of finishing the space.
"It will be our responsibility to undertake the work, we will bid it and we will undertake it and then we will be reimbursed by the university through their lease commitment," Peterson said.
ISU will reimburse the town over a five year period and Peterson said the hope will be to sign a new five year agreement in 2018. Renovations should start this summer.
Galleries Director Barry Blinderman said the space will be used for showings, performances, readings, tours, and will feature contemporary art from the U.S. and around the world.
"University Gallery's mission is to get the word out about our students, faculty and alums and at the same time, bring to our faculty, alums and townspeople the best possible contemporary art experience that we can," Blinderman said. "I see us as an integral part of the cultural community of the town of Normal."
"I think we believe that a fine art gallery brought another component to Uptown that was missing," Peterson said.
Because the parking garage was build with tax exempt bonds, Peterson said the town can't generate income from the space, so the university was a natural fit.