ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Monday’s Rockford Finance and Personnel Committee approved the purchase of the Watch Factory and Trekk Building in Downtown Rockford.
Oliver Emerson Development is the group hoping to make the purchase. They are run by Oliver Emerson and his son Oliver Emerson Jr.
“Seeing Rockford grow has given me curiosity,” said Emerson.
Emerson has lived in Rockford for more than thirty years. He shared a lot of excitement about redeveloping these historic buildings into residential downtown housing.
“It’s like, wow, this is cool living down here,” Emerson said about when he visited his son, who lived near the historic structures. “So we are excited about the progression of Downtown Rockford.”
“Watch Factory is an $8 million redevelopment. That sounds high, but number one, it’s a beautiful building. Just keeping the historic nature of that building increases the cost. And it’s really not that big of a building. So when you look at the cash flow for the use, the cash flow is less than what the public may assume is there,” said Karl Franzen the Director of Community and Economic Development for the City of Rockford.
The Development group is hoping to purchase the Trekk Building on 134 N. Main St. for $70,000 and the Watch Factory, at 325 S. Madison Street, for $55,000. The City has owned the two buildings for more than a decade.
Redevelopment of the Trekk building will cost nearly $6 million and the Watch Factory will cost $7.3 million. The City may be able to offer financial support.
“We have the private development interest rate. So, you know, the amount of public subsidy through the TIFF and Redevelopment Fund and the River Edge redevelopment zone is only possible because they’re bringing private dollars to make these redevelopments happen,” Franzen said.
The Watch Factory would have 23 housing units. The Trekk Building hopes to have half residential and commercial.
There has been a thorough process to keep the buildings in condition to be redeveloped. The historical buildings have been around for more than a century. Preserving the history was at the forefront of both parties’ minds.
“So, we have an opportunity to take the first step into due diligence to potentially convey these properties to a private developer for redevelopment,” Franzen said.
“You know, the historic buildings there, are just awesome and they’re strong buildings. They just have character, they have meaning, they have history,” Emerson said.
The committee gave unanimous approval to both projects, making the next stop: City Council.