By Jim Hagerty
ROCKFORD – An agreement between the City of Rockford and Rock Valley College to build a manufacturing technology center at the former Barber-Colman property on South Main Street was approved by the Planning & Development Committee Monday.
The agreement is to redevelop part of the 22-acre factory campus into a $32 million facility that will house RVC’s manufacturing education program. Officials say it is the first and most critical phase of the overall project that will eventually see the property as a sprawling mixed use development in the southwest quadrant of downtown.
According to the agreement, Rock Valley College will invest $9.2 million of capital funds to redo two Barber-Colman buildings. The city and county will spent $3.1 million on surrounding infrastructure. The stack also includes a $2.2 million grant from the Economic Development Administration and a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Federal, state and new market tax credits will make up the difference.
The agreement is pending approval by City Council and the Rock Valley Board of Trustees. Rockford Local Development Corporation will serve as the master developer, meaning it will lineup the architects and engineers as well as facilitate the cost estimates and tax-credit process.
Construction could start as early as next spring.
In other city business, the Finance & Personnel Committee agreed to pay Husar Abatement of Franklin Park, Illinois, $107,000 in grant money to remove asbestos from 134 N. Main St. The address is where Joseph James Partners is proposing a $16 million boutique hotel in the building formerly occupied by Trekk Design. The city gave Joseph James the green light on the project in 2015.
Work hasn’t started, however. According to Supply Core CEO and Joseph James President Peter Provenzano, it has been the city’s responsibility to remove the asbestos before construction would commence. City Administrator Todd Cagnoni told The Times in July that the city agreed to find funds to remove asbestos from but is not obligated to perform the work.
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.
Provenzano told the Rockford Register Star last week that while he is committed to redeveloping the building, a 76-room hotel with four additional floors is likely not going to happen. Instead, he says he is considering a mixed-used building with SupplyCore offices on the second floor, a project that would likely require an amended or new development agreement and City Council approval. The city could also terminate the original agreement and send the project back out for bid. R.