Urban Equity Properties announces major downtown developments

By Jim Hagerty
Reporter

ROCKFORD — A development company with an existing downtown presence will soon expand its footprint with three major projects.

Rockford’s Planning & Development Committee on Monday approved three projects by Urban Equity Properties that will come with 87 market-rate apartments, and a host of commercial and office space.

One of the developments, named “301”, is at 301 S. Main St., the site of the former Hanley Furniture building that burned down last year. UEP plans to build a new $5.5 million, four-story building that spans 40,000 square feet in its place. It will offer 33 one- and two-bedroom luxury apartments, rooftop deck as well as restaurant and retail on the ground floor. Construction would begin next year and be completed by 2020.

Renovations are set to begin this year on the other two projects, The Residences at Talcott, at 321 W. State St.; and CA Flats, 327 W. Jefferson St.

“This is a game changer,” UEP President Justin Fern said, “not just for downtown but the city of Rockford. We are literally bringing $27.8 million in projects that begin next month. This isn’t something that we are going to do in the future. This is something we are going to start very quickly.”

The Talcott transformation will turn the 13-story office building into a mix-used property with 13,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor, five floors of offices, and 42 apartments. There will be a tenant lounge, game room, deck and fitness center. A bridge will connect the building to the West State Street parking deck.

The $12.5 million project is in the River North TIF district and is expected to generate about $3.5 million in tax increment by the time it expires in 2031. The city would enforce a standard pay-as-you-go TIF agreement but also advance UEP $743,000 in three installments. Urban Equity would repay the advance from the tax increment and be liable for shortfalls in the projected increment.

The CA Flats will offer 18 residential lofts, each around 1,000 and 1,200 square feet. The three-story building on the corner of W. Jefferson and Church streets will offer underground parking, a rooftop deck and retail space on the ground floor. The city estimates the renovated property will generate about $700,000 in tax increment when the River North TIF expires. Urban Equity would be eligible for those funds under a pay-as-you-go agreement.

There would be TIF dollars at play on the 301 S. Main building, too. Originally in the West Side 2 TIF, the Hanley site is now in the Amerock TIF, which expires in 2041. Urban Equity would be refunded the increment under a pay-as-you-go agreement, minus the $523,000 the city spent last summer to demolish the Hanley building. The property is expected to generate a $3.9 million tax increment.

“All of these projects are going to have a big impact,” Fern added. “But, 301 itself will be positioned between the new $87 million Embassy Suites hotel project and the Burnham Lofts. So, it literally connects the dots and will have a massive impact on downtown.”

Burnham Lofts, a project on which UEP partnered with a developer in New York state, offers 62 apartments at 202 W. State St., two blocks north of the Hanley site. They are among the more than 150 high-end residential spaces Fern has developed over the last decade.

Urban Equity’s total investment in the three new projects is about $21 million.

All three development agreements will be up for a vote in front of the full city council next week. R.

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