Town of Normal – Questionable Land Purchase – UPDATE 2

Received from the Town of Normal:
Wendy provided me a copy of your email and asked that I respond.  As you see from the documents supplied to you the Town Council authorized purchase of the parking lots from One Main for $500,000.  This was about $240,000 more than the amount budgeted for these lots and about $200,000 more than the appraised value.  Wendy sent you that appraisal.  It is my understanding that Mr. Wilson required $500,000 for the lots, notwithstanding the amount budgeted and the appraised value.    I was not involved in the negotiations with Mr. Wilson or One Main so I do not know the basis for his demand.
It was not uncommon for the Town to pay more than the budgeted amount for land acquisitions in the Uptown.   Sellers were not willing to sell for the budgeted price and the town did not want to pursue costly and lengthy eminent domain actions.  Consequently the elected officials approved purchase prices that were sometimes above the budget or the appraisal. 
I hope this information helps.  You may call me if you have other questions or if I can be of further assistance.  
Steven D. Mahrt
Corporation Counsel
Town of Normal
I responded with this email:
Why did the Town of Normal want to own it?  Most retail establishments or apartment building owners pay for their own lots.
When I get a response – I will post it.

I believe these lots were acquired in order to provide public parking for the businesses on Beaufort and for the future mixed use building to be built on the east side of Constitution Blvd.

Steven D. Mahrt
Corporation Counsel
Town of Normal


by Diane Benjamin

In previous posts I questioned the purchase of part of the parking lot between E. College and Beaufort, west of Linden.  4 properties were purchased 8/13/2008 from One Main Development for $500,000 after One Main Development purchased that property and a building along Beaufort from Simon Wilson for $1,412,500.  Another Freedom of Information Act Request was submitted to the Town of Normal to determine how the parking lot price was determined.

The minutes posted on-line from the August 8, 2008 City Council meeting say the following:

4243: Omnibus Vote.

In other words, the purchase was budgeted for $241,650 but the amount was adjusted to $500,000.

The Freedom of Information Act request produced an August 8, 2005 appraisal of 3 of the 4 parcels.  The 3 parcels total 11,827 square feet – per information obtained from the Town of Normal.  The 4th parcel adds another 208 square feet.

The 3 parcels were appraised at $300,000 by Whitsitt & Associates of Champaign, Il.  The 2005 appraisal per square foot is $25.37 (300,000/11827).  The value of the additional 208 square feet adds another $5277 to the appraisal. (208 x $25.37).  That means in 2005 the property appraised for $305,277.

So here are the facts:

  • In 2008, Normal budgeted $241,650 to purchase part of the parking lot which was appraised in 2005 for $305,277
  • The budget was changed in 2008 to reflect the purchase price of $500,000

The 2008 budget also appears to be entered as a purchase from Simon Wilson.  One Main Development only entered the picture when purchasing additional property from Simon Wilson.

Why did the purchase price go 63.5% over the 2005 appraised value?

I received NO documents supporting the price.  Somebody has some explaining to do.

7 thoughts on “Town of Normal – Questionable Land Purchase – UPDATE 2

  1. thats our government! if you think thats bad look in to bloomington and the county when they got the gov, center, and the arena land!!

  2. The initial poster is correct. However please continue to focus on the current elected officials to help detour them from any further harm to the citizens financial well being. The idea of transparency must certainly be a dirty word in their vocabulary as they avoid transparency at all turns. Time for new leadership.

  3. It is called progress. I wish teabaggers would understand we need to move forward, not just complain.

  4. It’s time that all levels of government learned to live within their means. Families do it, businesses do it (usually), and when they don’t, they go bankrupt. It’s common sense that the same thing can easily happen to a town like Normal. It is the job of city council to be competent stewards of public money. They apparently have not. No matter how much they renovate the “uptown” area, how do they expect to recover the money spent?

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