By: Diane Benjamin
WGLT did a story yesterday pertaining to the still empty space at 1 Uptown Circle. Take a minute and read it: https://www.wglt.org/emails-show-developers-struggle-find-first-floor-tenant-uptown-building
Since the Town of Normal and WGLT are best buds, there has to be a reason for this story. I’ve noted many times Tartan Realty had the opportunity to rent the first floor but Normal vetoed it because it wasn’t the “right fit”. Normal wants low wage jobs that generate food/beverage and liquor taxes. It has to be high end so the ISU kids won’t be partying on the Circle.
I’ve also mentioned the parking problem. Why would people want to eat there if they have to park in the garage and then walk in heat, cold, rain, or snow? I laughed at the valet option. People aren’t allowed to drop off train or bus riders at the door, but a high-end restaurant across the street might be able to valet park?
In the story above WGLT claims the Town invested $2.1 million in One Uptown Circle and another $5.1 million in the Hyatt.
In 2016 WGLT did a different story: https://www.wglt.org/post/estimating-taxpayer-support-uptown-construction-project#stream/0
That story included the present value of Normal renting an entire floor just to get the building built – $4.58 million. It also claims total taxpayer investment of $8.4 million in just 1 Uptown Circle. No, the numbers don’t chive.
In 2016 the Pantagraph estimated over 15 years the lease would cost $5.9 million. That “around 2.8 million” in the WGLT article wasn’t a Town investment. It was a loan of $2.75 million that was supposed to be paid back with: tax increment financing, sales tax, food and beverage tax and hotel/motel tax money.
I wonder how much of that loan has been paid back? The empty first floor isn’t generating any additional taxes.
Don’t forget the luxury apartment taxpayers help fund with that loan. Definitely not affordable housing.
So why did WGLT do the story?
- They finally noticed the space has been empty for two years?
- Somebody leaked emails to them?
- The Town wants citizens to think they are trying to fill a space they don’t own?
- To paint Tartan Realty as the good guys for some upcoming project?
I’m thinking there is more to this story!