City settles development lawsuit; approves Barber Colman grant application

By Jim Hagerty
Contributor

CITY HALL — Rockford will pay $2.1 million to settle a lawsuit connected to a west side development that never happened.

Aldermen agreed at the Monday, July 24, meeting of the Rockford City Council to pay out over the failed Renaissance Corners project.

The complaint was filed in 2014 by Spring Creek Development Group, and was connected to the Renaissance Corners project near Springfield and Pierpont avenues.

Initials plans amended the Springfield Corners TIF and tapped the 50-acre area for mixed-use and commercial development, including a sprawling medical park that catered to the elderly, veterans and Alzheimer’s sufferers.

Crews prepped the site per a 2009 development agreement and ground was to break in 2010. But the project never moved past the first phase as economic conditions amid the Great Recession fizzled the plans, leaving contractors holding the bag for a slew of infrastructure costs.

Proceeds of the settlement will cover those costs per the city’s agreement with the developer. The city will remain owner of the site.

“It’s important to settle these obligations for two reasons,” Alderman Bill Rose, D-9, said. “The first reason is that if we continue to draw out the long legal process, it will end up costing the city more money. The second reason is that under the old administration, there were mistakes. Council was promised one thing and delivered another.  It’s important moving forward that the new council see where we can be more cautious and more savvy with business development.”

• In other city business, alderman agreed to send an application to the U.S. Economic Development Administration for a $3 million grant to resurrect the Barber Colman campus.

The project will likely far exceed $3 million, city officials said. However, federal grant funds would match city and county pledges to spark development of the South Main Street facility that has been dark for more than 10 years. Initial funds would cover infrastructure, utility hookups and parking improvements.

Several ideas have been mulled for the Barber Colman site over the years. The latest is to transform the longtime factory into Rock Valley College’s technical training center, which would complement the school’s downtown center inside the Rockford Register Star building.

And although it was up for passage again, aldermen did not vote on an ordinance to authorize the sale and delivery of alcohol on property owned and operated by the Rockford Public Library. The library has sold alcohol during after-hours special events for years but discovered earlier in 2017 it was in violation of state law. It is seeking a local permit pursuant to the Illinois Liquor Control Act.

The Rockford City Council meets on the first and third Monday of every month. R.

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