Did Normal admit Uptown is a failure?

By:  Diane Benjamin

The first floor of 1 Uptown Circle has been vacant and never rented since the building was finished in 2017.  https://www.loopnet.com/Listing/1-Uptown-Cir-Normal-IL/10774114/

The Uptown TIF was started in 2003 and incurred a massive amount of debt.  To date, according to the reports filed by Normal, the TIF has only earned $15,065,431.  That isn’t close to paying off the bonds.  PDF page 3  https://files.illinoiscomptroller.gov/LocGovTIF/FY2019/06409531/19TIF06409531Downtown_volpment_1.pdf

Did Normal admit in the documentation for Monday’s meeting that Uptown isn’t a magnet for businesses?


PDF page 34:

staff undeveloped

Over 5 years ISU paid $2,081,658 to cover the inside construction.  Magically now they can quit paying since the highly visible corner “would likely have remained undeveloped”.

In other words, nobody would or will pay to be in Uptown.

Therefore ISU gets the space for the cost of utilities.

Their words, not mine.


10 thoughts on “Did Normal admit Uptown is a failure?

  1. How many failures and waste of taxpayer money are citizens going to put up with? I am tired of their mismanagement and there needs to be some accountability. We have allowed them to use our taxes as an ATM for one moronic idea after another. Vote them out…..

    1. They are sorely lacking in their fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers. They are stealing our money for their own projects. Plus it keeps the unions busy.

  2. We all know now that the Uptown boondoggle is a marketing initiative to attract ISU students and their parents to the university. Marketing plans are not and can never be viable in a free market. It is silly to think it ever could be anything other than a very expensive capital intensive marketing plan that will never pay for itself or bring money into the area. The geniuses behind the Uptown fiasco thought that they could remove the possibility of the decline or at least delay the decline of ISU. In the end, it is not going to matter. Higher education is being disrupted and will undergo massive changes in the near future. Nothing in Uptown or Uptown 2.0 is going to change that. And the taxpayers are left to pay the enormous bill and live with a downtown that feels more like a movie set than a real downtown. Downtown Normal was stolen from us by idiots.

  3. Lol! This is Exactly what I’ve said in multiple public comments before the board. ‘Given that uptown has spent millions of taxpayer dollars to create useless spaces, as measured by the amount of rent they can command, an art gallery for ISU is a very good use for one such useless space.’ ‘If the council concedes that no business would want to move into the old Bill’s Lock & Key space without being bribed to do so, then yes, tax subsidies for the new brewpub may be in order.’ (or similar, as I’m going from memory on both)
    If looks could kill, I would’ve died several times over, but it’s good to see that the council is finally at least Beginning to face reality. I doubt that will stop them from moving forward with more delusional spending projects, but you have to start somewhere…

    On a side note, the thought occurs to me – what is the square footage for the gallery vs the square footage being used at Uptown Circle? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to at least look into putting departmental offices in the already-purchased town hall rather than paying sky-high rent across the street?

    1. You know what they say… Great Minds think alike! Yes, they have created spaces that would not exist if it were not for their marketing plan for ISU. This is why no one wants to rent them. They were created outside the free market. They were created without a real need for them. They were created by idiots who believed it would help market the area to another generation of ISU students.

      Uptown Normal
      Designed for students
      Funded by the taxpayers of Normal
      Pathetically worthless for bringing money into the area
      A financial albatross that will haunt Normal for decades
      A ruined downtown
      Sacrificed on the Koos/Peterson alter of stupidity and crony capitalism

  4. Of course Normal did. But is this a surprise as they are the poster child for the term, “Talking out of Both sides off their mouth”.

  5. As long as there is something in the spaces in Uptown, the establishment feels they can keep up the illusion that it’s successful. (Enough voters won’t look further into the financials, so staged storefronts will do.) Of course, we know it’s been a failure almost from Day 1. Nearly all businesses in Uptown have a subsidy of some kind, whether its a tax rebate, subsidized rent, or government/taxpayer-funded business. The bottom line, no one will be in Uptown without demanding Koos open the taxpayer wallet. The gallery is there merely as a coverup to prevent an eyesore empty space. You know, like malls that put up pictures over the glass of empty stores. Unfortunately for Koos, people have woken up and can see through the Uptown charade.

  6. Technically, ISU did NOT pay anything,the TAXPAYERS OF ILLINOIS paid for it. Technically,the City of Normal has not paid for it, the TAXPAYERS are paying for it. Double taxation?

  7. So here is a funny one for Monday:

    I was on the way back from Champaign this morning in the car with a friend.

    I leaned toward my friend and said, “There is almost no traffic on the road today”

    “That’s because we are the last ones to leave Illinois” she instantly retorted back to me.

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