Essex owner satisfies sanctions, building demo next

Staff Report

ROCKFORD — The owner of the Essex Wire property made the final $109,000 payment to the City of Rockford.

City officials say Paul Bennett, president of A-W Bennett Enterprises, made the installment in early January.  He also paid $5,000 to cover the final bill for demolition.

Sanctions against Bennett culminated last December, when Judge Lisa Fabiano ordered him to $216,000 for willfully failing to direct his corporation to complete demolition at the Essex Wire property and to pay a previously ordered sanction against the corporation for the same amount. The $216,000 sanction was the estimated cost to complete the demolition of the Essex facility and was to be paid in two installments.

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Those funds will be used to complete demolition. Work is scheduled to begin as early as Monday, Jan. 21, and should be completed by the end of February.

A Jan. 17 hearing about the case has been canceled.

A-W Bennett previously paid a $50,000 fine to the City for failing to complete the project. In total, the company has paid $271,000 in fines and sanctions related to its failure to demolish the World War II-era factory. In 2016, Bennett, a retired industrialist, tapped Chicago developer Bill Marino to demolish the 305,000-square-foot factory, sell the salvageable steel and brick then build a sprawling apartment complex called Essex on Main.

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While some materials were stripped from the facility, the Essex project never made it past a partial demolition. Bennett then fired Marino and put the property up for sale. R.

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