Babbitt’s Books

By:  Diane Benjamin

The address for Babbitt’s Books is 119 E Beaufort St, Normal, IL 61761

I wrote extensively in 2012 on how Normal financed Uptown.  A large part was buying properties for way over the assessed value, thus raising the surrounding property values.  Existing property owners saw large increases to their tax bills as a result.

I went to Babbitt’s a couple years ago looking for old history books.  The owner was sitting by the front door, so I attempted to ask him what he thought of Uptown.  He was an out-of-control flaming liberal spouting praises for the project and condemnation for anybody opposed to it.  I, of course, walked out.

What happened to taxes on the Babbitt’s building?  I had to ask the Assessor’s Office because 119 E Beaufort wasn’t listed.  A search for all properties on E Beaufort didn’t show it either.

They provided me with a parcel number of 14-28-436-006.  You can look it up here:

Keep in mind, the Assessed value is  1/3 of the total value.

To my knowledge, there have been few if any improvements made to this property to justify increases to assessed value.  The main change was Uptown.  Did taxes put him out of business?  A lot of old books would have to be sold to make up an almost $5000 increase per year in property taxes, not to mention all the other taxes and fees Normal has raised.

Assessed Value in 2003   40,208    Tax  $2,960.58   Total Value $120,624

Assessed Value in 2007    44,502    Tax $3,320.66

Assessed Value in 2014     94,013    Tax  $7,749.88   Total Value  $282,039  


For comparison, here are some other nearby properties.  Some improvements may have been made to them, I don’t go to Uptown often enough to know.

106 E Beaufort (Windy City Wieners-opened in 2009)

Assessed Value in 2003   39,292    Tax  $2,893.15    Total Value $117,876

Assessed Value in 2007    43,488   Tax $3,245.00

Assessed Value in 2014     51,633    Tax $4,256.32     Total Value  $154,899


112 E Beaufort:  (Advanced Electronics?)

Assessed Value in 2003    26,614    Tax  $1,959.64     Total Value  $79,842

Assessed Value in 2007   29,455     Tax $2197.88

Assessed Value in 2014    48,427     Tax $3992.04       Total Value $145,281


126 E Beaufort:  (Maggy Miley’s-opened in 2004)

Assessed Value in 2003     45,251     $3,331.91   Total Value  $135,753

Assessed Value in 2007     73,556     $5,488.62

Assessed Value in 2014    147,356     $12,147.14  Total Value $442,068






19 thoughts on “Babbitt’s Books

  1. THIS is the info people need to make educated voting decisions. THIS is why I follow you. The only thing the Pgraph is saying is how wonderful the biz has been and it’s time for him to go. THIS is the real story nobody else will report. Thanks!


  2. I was at Don Owen Tire on E. Empire last month and I was talking to someone there about how businesses were leaving that area, the Shell gas station, K-Mart, and there wasn’t much behind Don Owen in that shopping area.

    They told me the rent/lease was increased so businesses were pulling out. How true that is I don’t really know. One has to wonder if that increased how much of that was due to a change in assessed value that the city was putting on the area. Maybe the owners were forced to increase the rent/lease.

    I wonder what the city does if those building sit empty. Do they decrease the assessed value?

    I was in Growing Grounds one Sat. a few weeks ago and Dale (?) the owner was talking to someone about the city and I over heard some discussion about taxes. He had it correct. The more taxes we have to pay the less people have to spend and save.

    I look for that group that wanted some sales tax for a new YMCA center to rear it’s head again. They’ll likely try to tie that into the “White Elephant” hotel complex. Oh boy a package deal.


  3. Sounds to me that the owner thought he would get extra business from all the uptown redevelopment without costing him anything. In other words, a free lunch scenario. Turns out there are no free lunches.


    1. I can only hope this was a ‘Road to Damascus’ moment for them and realizing the error of their statist ways, they happily went to on become REAL Libertarians.

      Otherwise, it’s just further evidence that ‘progressivism’ should be diagnosed as a mental illness that is incurable…LOL


  4. I have always been a little confused about the term “Up Town Normal”. If my sense of elevation is correct you have to go DOWN to get to “Up Town Normal”. Now that they have made all the “improvements” and added all the pay parking I have decided to stay away from those businesses as they surely have demand more money for their goods and quite frankly I can go elsewhere and find free and convenient parking. I like to refer to it as “Up-it-tee Town”.


    1. FWIW, parking on the street is free in Normal, the lots behind the buildings are free, and the garages are free for the 1st hour, and $1/hr after that. Lots of free and convenient parking there — in fact– it’s a lot more convenient than most mall parking.


  5. Increasing property values are bad. Great. Got it. And when you post that decreasing property values are also bad, I guess I’ll ask you to explain then.


  6. Parking in Uptown stinks. There’s no way I am going to pay to park i one of their rinky dink parking garages. Come on. This is cornfield country, not downtown Chicago. I refuse to pay to park in podunk normal.


    1. So park for free in one of the hundreds of convenient, free street spots … or park for free for an hour in a garage. Out of interest, why do you call them “rinky-dink”? IMHO, they’re pretty big and there’s almost always parking available.


      1. @JC, IIRC the posted signage by the library garage said that it was a for fee affair. I don’t recall there being a one hour grace period.


  7. FWIW, the Babbit’s location was subdivided and turned back into two stores last year + — 1/2 of the space was fully changed and is now a cookie shop. Might have been part of the reassessment/revaluation story. You might also be aware of the long-term trend of bookstores of all sorts struggling to stay in business nationwide. Perhaps taxes and costs were part of the story, but a 25-year run in a fading sector is still pretty good going.


  8. commenting101, The parking deck near the library is free for the 1st hour, or free totally after 6 (ideal for seeing a move at the Normal!). We park there regularly.


  9. Of course Ms. Benjamin won’t let the fact the Babbitt’s Books is not going out of business because of property taxes be known on this blog. I asked the owner, and he said it was the nature of retail business and the fact that Amazon bites into his used book business.


    1. This is your last comment – I’m only responding because once again economics is way beyond you. So, he rents. What is the rent based on? Does the landlord have a right to show a profit on his building? The landlord’s property taxes go up because the Town of Normal claims the building is now worth more. Are you really dense enough to believe the landlord didn’t raise the rent? Seriously? Don’t bother responding, you are done here.


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