Who’s best interest is Normal using?

By:  Diane Benjamin

Make sure you read to the bottom!


Remember the deal Terri Ryburn got for the property at 305 Pine Street?

  • Rent for her to live there is $120 a year
  • Normal paid off her mortgage – $228,550.50 + another $5000
  • Normal bought the lot next door for $24,000
  • Terri gets to operate a gift shop on the first floor (when she isn’t closed for the winter)



Remember the $100 a month lease Normal had on the agenda for 305 S. Linden?  Normal was renting cheap PLUS spending $5000 to run internet.  Luckily it was pulled from the consent agenda before the meeting.  It hasn’t been back since:  https://blnnews.com/2019/04/14/is-normal-handing-out-a-cheap-lease/


102 W North is rented to Ohmfit Activewear  for $180 a month.  The lessee should be paying property taxes on this property since they are getting rent, but the County shows is exempt.


Let’s go the other direction!  Would any other entity rent an entire floor of 1 Uptown Circle for more than $35,000 a month?  Keep in mind NOBODY is renting the first floor and hasn’t since the building opened.  Normal loaned the developer $2.75 million because of all the taxes the building would generate.  The Town will receive  $3,049.50 in property taxes this year, the Uptown TIF will receive $159,492.62.  Zero will be collected in Food an Beverage taxes.

I’m sure I could find more examples where Normal either charged  a “friends and family rate” for a lease or overpaid for properties.  

Look at one more:

wild country

Normal wanted this property for Uptown 2.0.  Depending on who is elected in the future, that plan should be dead.  Meanwhile in 2015 these terms were extended on a year by year basis.  Wild Country

The property taxes are $10,788.68 a year.  Since the Smiths know Normal eventually wants to tear the building down, how much do you think they are investing in maintenance?

What does the law say about properties?

A 1974 Illinois Attorney General Opinion to Peoria County and quoting from Sherlock v Village of Winnetka,https://cite.case.law/ill/59/389/, where it was stated: “they are bound to administer property faithfully, honestly and justly, and if it [public entity] is guilty of a breach of trust by disposing of its valuable property for little or no consideration, it is regarded as acting on behalf of an individual. Using forms of legislation in committing such breach of trust does not make any difference in the act. It will not be considered an exercise of political power for public purposes, and the privilege of exemption from judicial interference terminates where legislative action ends”.

The courts have ruled municipalities have a fiduciary duty to taxpayers.  The Town lawyer prepared the Wild Country agreement.  Maybe nobody would want to rent that building for more, maybe they would. 

The point is:  Normal didn’t bid the lease.  They didn’t bid the Ryburn lease.  They didn’t bid the 305 S. Linden lease.  

This is why Stan Nord and Karyn Smith were elected.  Don’t stop Normal, you deserve better.


7 thoughts on “Who’s best interest is Normal using?

  1. (1) This is a horrible deal for everyone except Terri Ryburn. Any so-called economic boost from this gift shop is a figment of the Town’s imagination. The property’s significance and relation to Route 66 history are dubious at best. Only government would pay a quarter of a million dollars to own and maintain (which requires more money in the future) a seasonal knickknack shop. Koos & Co. are economic geniuses! (2) A birdie told me that the deal fell through a while ago and is officially dead. Those that would have occupied the space have since found a different office (operated by a private company). (3) A while back, Koos pitched the small space occupied by Ohmfit Activewear as a stepping stone or launching step for a small business getting off the ground. In other words, a fledgling business could use the space at a discounted rate to gain traction, test the market, and get off the ground. Problem is that Ohmfit Activewear has been there for several years. I’d imagine they would not be there absent the rent subsidy. Of course, the Town won’t kick them out because they don’t care about taxpayer dollars and another vacant space in Uptown interferes with their narrative of government-led economic utopia. (4) 1 Unoccupied Circle (er, I mean…1 Uptown Circle) was a long shot at best. You might want to have a tenant in the bag before building such a highly customized space. Hey Koos – The term “build to suit” means you design/construct the inside for a tenant that has already signed a lease. Now the space sits empty because it’s designed for a single industry, one that can’t make the economic work. By the way, restaurants are one of the most difficult, competitive, and thin margin businesses one can get into. (Hats off to folks in that industry.) My hunch is that Koos was so arrogant he believed it would not be an issue to fill that space…and, of course, financials and the reality of the marketplace don’t exist in his made-up world.

  2. I went in there once to see it. The smell of mold was so bad I couldn’t wait to get out, and will never go back. Admittedly, I have a very sensitive nose, but I can promise you it was the unmistakable smell of mold. I wonder how her health is?

  3. wow, what sweet deals out there. I have a home to sell to Normal if they want to do the sweet deal with me.but alas, that will never happen since i am not one of the “right fit” group Koo’s favors.

  4. Koos wanted the ‘look’ of uptown. I doubt he cares that so much of that building is empty. Visitors are impressed by the appearance of uptown without realizing how much is unoccupied.

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