By Jim Hagerty
CITY HALL — Although one Rockford alderman called it a bad business deal, the Rockford City Council on Monday put finishing amendments on the agreement to open an indoor market downtown.
The project, billed as the $2.4 million Indoor City Market, will come by way of the Rock River Development Partnership. The city will invest more than $2 million from its hotel tax into the deal over 20 years. More than $1 million in diverted River Edge Redevelopment tax credits will also be part of the stack, as well as $8 million in loan guarantees.
The Rock River Development Partnership will contribute 10 percent of the proceeds from the outdoor market into the deal over five years, with funds placed into a reserve account tapped for cost overruns.
While he praised the RRDP’s efforts in bringing City Market, which draws more than 100,000 people downtown each season, Alderman Frank Beach, R-10, said he couldn’t support the new project.
“We are the ones at risk,” Beach said. “No equity does [the city] have in this project at all. When this is all done, if it wants to be sold, or traded away, all of the equity would go away—not to us, but to those who are operating it. It doesn’t seem [good] for the City of Rockford as a business deal.”
Alderman Tim Durkee, R-1, said he recognized the city’s risk, but said it is time to reverse Rockford’s legacy of being behind the times in developing a vibrant core.
“We now have the inertia,” Durkee said. “We can dare greatly, or crawl back and throw up our hands. Development does not come without risk. And the success that [RRDP] has brought to Rockford has created a new entity and spirit downtown.”
Alderman Linda McNeely also voted against the amendments. They were brought before council because banks involved in the deal asked for a provision that the city guarantee the project’s loans.
The indoor market is slated to open Dec. 31, 2018. It will be housed in the building at 114, 116 and 118 N. Madison St., just north of C.J.’s.
• In other city business, aldermen approved the Amerock Hotel Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District for the upcoming Embassy Suites hotel project and the financing for the project area. The development project is expected to last two years and be completed sometime in 2019.
Derek Shelby, a Rockford reverend, continued to chide city leaders, using his three minutes of public speaking to declare that select white men present at City Hall Monday were “going to hell” for carrying out what he routinely calls a “de facto containment policy” of black people.
“You are going to hell for all the wickedness you’ve done,” Shelby, who has been previously banned from City Hall for making potentially slanderous comments, said.
The full City Council meets on the first and third Monday of every month. Committee meetings are the second and fourth Monday. R.