City checks in on boutique hotel project

Can accommodations be made?

By Jim Hagerty
Reporter

ROCKFORD – The developer of a proposed $16 million boutique hotel at the corner of North Main and Mulberry streets says he’s waiting for the city to move forward on site remediation before construction can commence.

However, Rockford’s city administrator says it’s not the city’s responsibility to remediate the property.

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In a report released on Thursday, SupplyCore CEO Peter Provenzano told the Rockford Register Star that his other company, Joseph James Partners, is waiting for the City of Rockford to remove asbestos from 134 N. Main St., commonly known as the Trekk Building.

City Administrator Todd Cagnoni told The Times Friday the city applied for a $175,000 grant from the EPA to remove the hazardous material but beyond that, it isn’t obligated to do the work.

“We applied for the grant last year,” Cagnoni said. “We also applied for it the year before. We had a conversation with the developer last year, when the project had not moved forward. So, our thought was that it was advantageous to apply for the grants whether the project advances or not because it would improve the building. But there is nothing in the development agreement that says the city is responsible for removing asbestos or lead paint.”

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The development deal between the city and Joseph James was approved in June 2015. The company is proposing a 76-room hotel and ground was going to break shortly after the agreement was approved, however, nothing has commenced.

Before aldermen green-lit the project, Justin Fern’s Urban Equity Properties had also submitted a proposal. Fern, who expressed interest back in 2013, had a plan to develop the nearly 100-year-old building into residential loft apartments, retail and office space without using government subsidies. And unlike Provenzano’s plan to add four floors to accommodate more guest rooms and a conference center, UEP planned to preserve the original structure.

Under terms of the Joseph James deal, the city would sell the building to the developer for a dollar, throw in $1.5 million in pay-as-you-go TIF funds and guarantee a $3 million federal loan.

The daily further reported that in May, the city sent Joseph James a 120-day notice of default, demanding that it move forward with the project by Sept. 23 and submit a timeline and financing plan. The Times verified the letter Friday.

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Provenzano is expected to respond to the letter. He told the daily that he’s committed to the deal and that Joseph James is six months into a 36-month plan. But because 37 months have passed, whether he was referring to a timeline that will actually span 67 months is unclear.

The Times reached out to Bryan Davis, SupplyCore’s vice president of government affairs and community engagement, Friday for clarification but he did not respond by press time. R.

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