Another Questionable Lease in Uptown

By:  Diane Benjamin

In 2017 I FOIA’d the Town of Normal for all properties they rent:

At least one property didn’t make the list of what I received:  The ISU Art Gallery.  The gallery is tucked under the west end of the parking garage by City Hall.

One thing is clear from the latest FOIA, no one is tracking properties.  The original lease is dated in November of 2013.  Since it’s a 5 year lease, the “”professional staff” thought it expired 5 years after it was signed:




The Director of Facilities thought the lease expired on April 15th of this year:

April 15 lease end

ISU finally decided the lease expires at the end of September 2019:

Sept 30 lease end

This is the original Council Action in 2013:

org leaserent

$1.9 million is what the Town spent building out the space, so essentially ISU isn’t paying rent, they simply reimbursed taxpayers for what they paid – at least ISU paid interest.  If Normal had to borrow the money hopefully the interest paid the cost.

This is the original lease:    Original November 4, 2013

An amendment was signed in 2015 making the Town responsible for maintenance, ISU then paid for the services performed:  ISU_Gallery_-_amendment

I know from the emails a new lease has been drafted.  In 2 weeks we will probably find out if the Town of Normal is giving away yet another property for less than market value.

Will anyone report annual sales through the gallery?  

I don’t see where ISU is paying property taxes.  Retail establishments should, not paying gives this gallery an unfair advantage over galleries that do.  The lease does call for ISU to remit sales tax.  Maybe the art isn’t for sale, it’s hard to tell from the website:

One more email:


See this website for what Illinois Art Station is:

Does the Town of Normal plan yet another below market value lease?

Maybe empty space in Uptown doesn’t have a market value?  Maybe the Town is arranging another “Right Fit”?

Trustee Kathleen Lorenz appeared on WJBC this morning.  She claimed the TIF is here and the Town should use it.  Kathleen:  The Town isn’t using it, developers and others get reduced investments to locate in Uptown.  They are using it.  What happens when the free money runs out?

Lorenz claimed the Uptown TIF report is being moved up the agenda.  It should be since giving away more money is on the agenda.  Good move.  It would have been nice to actually SEE the TIF report instead of hearing a cherry picked version however.








6 thoughts on “Another Questionable Lease in Uptown

  1. Clarify please. Does this mean Normal used tax payer $$ to renovate the building to ISU requirements, and then ISU is to pay them back with taxpayer $$? The old shell game in action if this is correct. Just move the pea ($$) around under the shell until no one knows where it was or where it is.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Uptown has been dominated by government from day 1. They’ve controlled the specific businesses that are allowed to operate there, given taxpayer money to businesses and people they like and/or want to influence, and have built more and fancier offices for government employees. Is there any business in Uptown that can stand on its own in the marketplace without a government handout of one kind or another.


  3. Looking over the emails it appears that the government employees cannot even agree on or determine the answer to a simple question: When does the contract start and end. I like the description of this being another shell game shuffling taxpayer money till you aren’t sure where the money came from or went. Pathetic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Remember when Pam Reece took Stan Nord to task for his ” perceived…lack of confidence in staff and a lack of confidence in the organization”?

      Looks like the staff deserves even less confidence.

      Liked by 2 people

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