‘Mis-perceptions’—getting more for your money

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//img-YfwjQUjVTX.jpg’, ‘Photo by Paul Marek’, ‘Belles Firm of Architecture at 1001 E. Jefferson St. is a model for River District restoration.’);

Many of Rockford’s citizens have a mis-perception about real estate in Rockford. The perception is it is both desirable and economical to raze a food producing agricultural field to install a Styrofoam and stucco box into an asphalt jungle. I would like to share our most current personal story that debunks this mis-perception.

We purchased 1001 E. Jefferson St. more than a year ago. We paid $25,000 for this 1,850 rentable square foot structure. When the last renovation item is complete this spring, we will have spent $27,000 on renovation, for a total project cost of $52,000. Financed (at 5percent as a second mortgage against our home) we could have a “monthly payment,” including taxes, of slightly less than $500 per month. Belles Firm of Architecture, Inc. (our company) is our tenant, which rents this property for $3.25 per square foot. Reproduction cost for this brand new, high-profile, curved limestone and glass block building would be $250,000. By renovating and reusing this existing structure, we are able to rent $12 per square foot space for less than $4 per square foot! Investing in real estate in the River District is an economically smart endeavor. This is our success story, we, and the readers of The Rock River Times would be interested in hearing yours.

We are not the only ones involved in taking economic advantage of Rockford’s mis-perception of downtown. Pioneers like Mike and Parry at Saturn Studios got in on the ground floor. Quick to follow were Dan and Michelle, at Octane. Currently, Jason and Dan with Illuminate Neon at 414 E. State St. and John with a new banquet hall above Ideal Printing and Advertising are taking advantage of the real estate opportunities the River District has to offer. Lest the cynic think this type of “investment” is only for the “little guy”—the federal government is leasing renovated office space in the Rockford Trust Building—right in the heart of downtown River District. The Federal bean counters are not blinded by mis-perceptions; they know value. Why do you believe Dr. Gautam Gupta is actively purchasing downtown properties? Perhaps he believes America is gobbling up farmland for development at such a rate that food will soon be in short supply, and the demand for his weight loss clinics will go away…or, perhaps he knows America is getting fatter, and he has discovered a great way to invest his money.

If you are interested, but can’t do the math, ask for help. To think that it is un-wise and un-economical to invest in downtown Rockford is a mis-perception that you cannot afford to make.

Rob C. Belles’ architecture office is located at 101 E. Jefferson St. in Rockford.

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