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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.

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.

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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