Clean-up is underway for condominium site

Dick Wendt, Rockford’s attorney, explains the process of amending and approving the Brownfield Authority for the Tamarack Run condominium projects. Next to him is Rockford City Manager Thad Beard.

Council approves authorization of Brownfield development

by BETH ALTENA

Rockford City Council unanimously voted to approve an Amendment and Restatement of the City of Rockford Brownfield Authority Brownfield Plan for the 202 North Monroe, LLC Redevelopment Project. The vote came during the regular monthly meeting held June 11 at city hall. City attorney Dick Wendt was on hand to give a presentation and update on the project.

“Let me tell you what this is. It is not a public hearing on approval for Tamarack Run. That process is completed and approved.” He said the Brownfield is a tax incentive on monies generated by the project and was originally approved in April of 2016. Since then there have been changes, causing the developer to request an amendment to the original Planned Unit Development. He said the amendment was approved a week prior by the city’s Brownfield Authority Board, which is the Downtown Development Authority.

The units included in the development decreased from 51 to 49, Wendt explained. Open space decreased from 62.5 percent to 41 percent. Costs on the project increased from $9.2 million dollars to 15 million dollars.The plan was originally slated to begin construction in mid 2016 and be completed in 24 months. Now the revised plan is scheduled to begin mid 2018 and be completed in
24 to 36 months.

The money under consideration is only a portion of new taxes generated specifically from this project and in total is expected to be $740,056 with $150,000 of that to be reimbursed to the city to cover due care activities associated with cleaning up property owned by the city that is currently contaminated. It is anticipated the entire reimbursement to the city and property developer will take place in six to eight years.

According to the amendment documentation, the project includes the redevelopment of 7.32 acres of land in downtown Rockford and is composed of five parcels located at 202 North Monroe Street, 220 North Monroe Street, 184 North Monroe Street, 200 North Monroe Street and 185 Courtland Street. The project will address the existing contamination on the property for the construction of 49 residential condominium projects of three different designs (flat, townhome and ranch designs).

The creation of this pocket neighborhood will bring new residents to downtown Rockford, next to adjacent Rum creek and within walking distance to the Rockford business district. Brownfield Authority eligible activities include baseline environmental assessment, due care activities and plan preparation and development. The project includes installation of a storm water management system to control exacerbation of existing contamination and protect natural features, including wetlands and Rum Creek.

The document also provides some historical information about the property and notes that the northern portion, closest to Rum Creek, was used for industrial purposes. “Records show that Haner and Haskel Wagon Works relocated to the site in 1897. In 1913 the name was changed to Haskell and Burch, which built bodies for heavy trucks and buses.” In 1914 operations expanded to include fabrication of military troop carriers. The operations continued through to the 2000s and included welding and fabrication, painting and sandblasting. The business was sold in 2005 and the property was vacated. The former industrial building and a storage building were recently demolished.

The eastern parcel has remained undeveloped and owned by the City of Rockford since the 1930s. The southwestern and northwestern were used for residential properties constructed in 1910 and 1920. Those two homes were recently demolished. The south parcel is vacant land.

Not relevant are portions of the Brownfield Authority that deal with the relocation of existing residents on the property.

“The Project involves the reactivation of an underutilized and contaminated property in downtown Rockford. The Project will address the existing contamination at the site and bring new residents and investment into the downtown. The Project includes total capital investment of approximately $15 million in the downtown.”