By Richard S. Gubbe
A spokesman for the Rockford Development Group LP told The Rock River Times (TRRT) that part of the Amerock building in the 4400 block of Auburn Street may be occupied again.
The building has been vacant of a tenant doing business since renovation specialist Denovo Rockford/Bellwood began cleaning up the distressed property. Denovo purchased the Amerock facility in December 2009 from Newell Operating Company.
The former hardware plant was purchased by Rockford Development Group in November 2010. Cleanup and renovation activity in and around the building has been constant for nearly a year with salvage work being conducted on site.
“We’ve got someone who is interested in taking a lot of that space,” a Rockford Development Group spokesman told TRRT. “We’re in negotiations right now. It will be a good thing for Rockford. That’s really all I really want to tell you. But it will be a really good thing for Rockford.”
An announcement about the future of the building, the spokesman said, will take place “hopefully shortly.”
As for allegations by a former Amerock employee that toxic waste barrels were cemented into the walls in the late 1970s, the spokesman said: “Buried inside the walls? No, no. There’s no toxic chemicals in there. The company we bought it from was an environmental company who went through the entire building.”
Fire erupted on the roof of the former Amerock factory May 17 after employees of a salvage company reportedly started a tank with fiberglass ablaze.
The fire started atop the former hardware factory and quickly spread out of control. Rockford Fire Chief Derek Bergsten said the salvage company was using a cutting torch when materials accidentally caught fire. He said employees tried to extinguish the blaze, but then had to call the fire department. The fire was brought under control by the Rockford Fire Department, and no one was reported injured.
Rockford Fire Department investigator Mike Rotello concurred the blaze was set by workers for Nationwide Industrial Salvage out of Michigan.
“That’s what we determined it to be — accidental,” Rotello said. “They’re removing tanks to make it more appealing to business coming in.”
Damage was estimated at only a couple thousand dollars, Rotello said.
“Damage was minimal in an overhead bay,” Rotello said. “They were cutting on some metal empty tanks. They unloaded a few fire extinguishers on it and made a good attempt to stop it.”
Amerock, which was opened in 1956, was one of the leading producers of home hardware for more than a half century.
Rockford Development Group is a limited partnership company. The limited partnership is listed in the Winnebago County Recorder’s office as being in Milwaukee at 1818 Farwell Ave. Rockford Development Group bought the property from Denovo for $1.9 million.
From the May 30-June 5, 2012, issue