April 30 meeting to save Freeport’s Germania

FREEPORT—Freeport’s Germania has already been rehabilitated once to become the City Lights (City Lights was closed by the Internal Revenue Service almost 10 years ago).

Contrary to the unsupported rumors of various Freeport administrations, the Germania is structurally sound.

Some in the community recognize that if the Germania were rehabilitated, it could become a cash cow and destination point for Freeport, much like other regional jewels: Galena’s DeSoto Hotel, Rockford’s Coronado Theatre, Milwaukee’s Riverside Theatre and Aurora’s Paramount Theatre. It is important to note that all of these historic treasure’s were in far worse condition than the Germania!

So, April 23, an organizational meeting was held in the Freeport Library Board Meeting Room for those interested in working as a community to save Freeport’s historic Germania, restoring it to its prior glory and for a productive reuse.

At 6 p.m., Monday, April 30, a second meeting for the greater community will be held at Freeport Library, but in one of the community meeting rooms.

Surely, if the City of Freeport could approve and spend well more than $550,000 of public tax-increment financing (TIF) district money to improve the Rawleigh Office Building for a private reuse that benefits a few, as a community we have the political will to invest a like amount of public money to restore the Germania to its prior glory and for a greater public reuse.

Instead of using the $172,000 of TIF money already budgeted by this city council (as recommended by this administration for its demolition), we could use the appropriation as seed money to stabilize the building, and then the greater community could become its own developer.

Perhaps the Germania could become the small business incubator (a concept that has been talked about for the last decade); the Germania could become the home to a number of small businesses working cooperatively wherein each business develops its own business plan, assuming a limited amount of risk so no one entity or lender is exposed to substantial long-term risk, and where the project could proceed more quickly.

For more information, contact Marianne at (815) 232-1474 or (815) 541-4202 or Freeport Ald. Nickee Bender at (815) 232-7971.

Freeport resident Marianne L. Garvens is a contributing writer.

from the April 25-May 2, 2007, issue

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