Normal does not want mural standing in the way of Uptown construction

Uptown mural
The Town of Normal is preparing a contingency plan to move this mural in case a court rules that it should be preserved despite a developer’s plan to build a five-story building on the site. (Save the Uptown Mural and Historic Buildings Facebook page)

 

By Howard Packowitz

Normal – Leaders in the Town of Normal do not want a controversy over an artists’ mural to delay construction of a major uptown development. So, they’ve come up with a potentially costly plan in case a court orders that the mural should be saved, instead of facing the wrecking ball to make way for the Trail East project.

City Manager Pamela Reece believes the town government is on solid legal ground that it’s not necessary to preserve the mural on the northeast portion of Uptown Circle.

However, a staff report to the town council said some of the mural’s painters, commissioned by a former uptown business known as The Pod, want to assert their rights under the Visual Artists Rights Act, which is part of federal copyright law.

Monday night, the council will be presented with a plan from the Farnsworth Group, an engineering firm intending to move its offices into the five-story building. Farnsworth suggested the mural can be spared from demolition and moved somewhere at a price range of $56,200 to $81,560.

Reece said the town would attempt to receive reimbursement from people connected with The Pod, who are responsible for the mural.

The town council has made a substantial investment in Trail East, agreeing to rebate up to $8 million dollars from tax increment financing to the developer over an 18 year period to build the complex.

Construction is expected to start this spring. Reece said letters of intent have been signed to fill up 70 percent of the available office space. A food hall is planned for the first floor, with residential space on the top level.

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

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