By Shane Nicholson
Downtown progress is the name of the game for State Rep. Litesa Wallace.
The Rockford Democrat is co-sponsoring legislation which will expand the time frame for tax credits on property improvements throughout the downtown area via the state’s River Edge Redevelopment Zone Act (RERZA).
“Rockford’s downtown area is a beautiful setting for businesses and homes, and this measure will help developers put the empty space there to good use,” Wallace said.
“Our river front area has so much to offer, and I hope this bill prompts the continued development of this part of our city.”
RERZA is a program headed by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity designed to help environmentally challenged metro areas adjacent to rivers.
The five cities eligible to receive the tax credits are Rockford, Elgin, Aurora, Peoria and East St. Louis.
Currently 10.019 sq. miles out of the 12 allowed by the state have been assigned to Rockford’s RERZA areas, including the recent Broadway expansion to accommodate a new police substation at the corner of 14th Street.
Approximately 5 sq. miles of land near the airport has been under discussion and indications are that it could be reapportioned to the current Enterprise Zone boundaries, freeing up over 40% of the total land quota available under RERZA.
The Enterprise Zone tax credit act is set to expire at the end of 2015 although it could be extended through the summer of 2016.
Wallace, along with Rep. Jehan A. Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria), is pushing to expand RERZA from its planned expiration date of 2017 to 2022 in order to allow more business the chance to take advantage of the tax credit programs.
“I want to do my part to restore Rockford’s downtown region to the vibrant center of commerce it was not so long ago, and this bill may help gather the invest needed to achieve this goal,” Wallace said.
“I’ll continue work with community members and my colleagues in Springfield to find ways to help Rockford recover from the recession and grow our local economy.”