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Normal, Illinois to Consider Proposal for Redevelopment of the Former Holiday Inn
 to a 160-room, Full-Service Radisson Hotel

By Mary Ann Ford, The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Ill.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Nov. 04, 2011--NORMAL -- The former Holiday Inn in north Normal would be renovated and turned into a 160-room, full-service Radisson Hotel under a redevelopment agreement to be considered by the Normal City Council Monday.

The council also will be asked to approve extending the enterprise zone to Bridgestone America's Tire Operation -- Bloomington-Normal so the company could capture state sales tax rebates for a proposed nearly $20 million equipment investment at the plant.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the council chambers of Normal City Hall, 100 E. Phoenix Ave.

Swift Hospitality of Freeport purchased the hotel at 8 Traders Circle for $2 million two years ago at a foreclosure sale.

The property had been owned Normal Hospitality LLC, which previously had a redevelopment agreement with the town to convert the hotel into a Crowne Plaza. Normal Hospitality ultimately asked to end the pact with the town after allegations that workers on the project weren't being paid prevailing wage, as required by the agreement.

When the foreclosure sale took place, Normal Hospitality owed Morton Community Bank more than $7.5 million.

Swift Hospitality plans to invest about $16.5 million in the property, according to City Manager Mark Peterson.

David Swift, president and chief executive officer of Swift, said the project will include an upscale, branded restaurant called Firelake that will serve three meals a day. Swift also plans to add meeting rooms to the front of the conference center at the property. The conference center will have its own kitchen and operating staff, he said.

The facility will be available for conferences, wedding and other large gatherings.

The proposed redevelopment agreement with the town would allow the company to recover about $3.9 million from the tax increment financing fund and about $1.7 million from the hotel/motel tax for seven years.

The property was included in a TIF district in 2008. In a TIF, property tax revenue is frozen to taxing bodies at the current level and any increase in tax revenue beyond that goes into a fund used for qualifying redevelopment within the district. TIF districts can last up to 23 years.

Swift said if the redevelopment agreement is approved by the council, the renovation would begin by the end of this year or the first of next year. Work is expected to take about six or seven months. Swift is being joined in the project by Sand Lodging.

The former Holiday Inn became Staywood Inn in January 2006. Staywood Inn closed abruptly three months later and the property was foreclosed. Global Hotel Management bought the property and Normal Hospitality LLC was formed for the Crowne Plaza renovation project.

In another matter, the council will be the first of three asked to approve expanding the enterprise zone to Bridgestone. Bloomington City Council and the McLean County Board also must approve it.

Bridgestone plans to invest nearly $20 million on equipment to produce another tire at the facility. About 40 full-time jobs would be created over the next three years.

The company also is considering another $30 million investment that would create 100 jobs, Peterson said. Company officials have declined to provide details of that possible project.


(c)2011 The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Ill.)

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