Grassroots group wants to save Amerock building

May 11, 2011

By Jim Hagerty
Online Editor

A grassroots group wants to save one of the city’s most visible buildings and told aldermen why Monday, May 9, at the Rockford City Council meeting.

Members of the group calling itself Friends of Ziock (FOZ) wants the City of Rockford to redevelop the Ziock building, the former home of Amerock, along the Rock River near Davis Park.

Monday, group spokesman Jeffery Orduno told the council the city-owned building should be kept and used as a key downtown property tax base. Echoing several developers who have attempted to turn the 13-story building into condos, penthouses and commercial spaces, Orduno said demolishing the structure is simply not good business.

There’s been 2.5 million square feet of property demolished in the last 50 years, and only six new private-sector buildings have sprung up,” Orduno said. “Not a new high-rise has been built in over three decades. Once this building is gone, it’s not going to come back in any similar shape or form.”

Aldermen were reportedly scheduled to cast a vote centered on an agreement between the city and Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, which could determine the fate of the vacant building.

Mayor Larry Morrissey (I) said the agreement would not, necessarily, mean the city will raze the almost 100-year-old building.

I would love to see a developer come forward,” Morrissey said. “But if it doesn’t happen, I want us to have the flexibility to determine what’s the best thing to do.”

No vote was taken regarding the Ziock building Monday. Aldermen also delayed a vote on the Rockford Housing Authority’s request to build a 38-unit mixed-used building at College Avenue and Seminary Street. The building, what officials are calling the Jane Addams project, will provide subsidized housing for people with disabilities.

The Ziock building, at 416 S. Main St., was built by William Ziock in 1915. The structure was built to house the Ziock Knitting Co. It later became home to Amerock, until the company outgrew the location in the 1950s.

Several developers have attempted to redevelop the property over the years, but have been stymied by funding problems, unpaid property liens and economic woes.

The Rockford City Council meets every Monday at City Hall.

From the May 11-17, 2011 issue

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