Editor’s Note: The original story reported that funding for the Essex development was to be funded in part with Tax Increment Financing. The plant does sit in a TIF District, which was created with the belief TIF dollars would be used to redevelop the site, but Rockford city council has only voted so far to fund researching the use of TIF dollars for the project.
150,000 pound scissors cutting the ribbon into the future of Rockford. Essex LLC is taking this for a project cost of 21 million dollars, turning it into something new.
“It’s extremely underserved by street retail and even newer, ready to go market housing and we started to see a need for it and a vacuum and that’s why we went down that road,” said William Marino, Manager of Essex LLC.
“10 years later, it’s great to be able to be here and see what happens when you stay true to a vision,” said Mayor Larry Morrissey.
Right now-the Essex on Main project -being built on the site of the old Essex wire building-is little more than rubble. By 2017, phase one will be complete with 17 thousand square feet of retail and office space along with 240 residential units.
“This is the type of thing that I’ve seen in my career in Chicago change entire neighborhoods…change entire areas for the better,” said Alderman Beck.
But funding it is not without controversy. The project is being considered for funding in part by a tax increment financing district, one of thirty city-wide which could potentially cost taxpayers millions. But, Morrissey says the project is worth the risk.
“You can’t cut your way into prosperity, you have to invest intelligently into prosperity and this is a great investment, this is a great example of how we do that,” said Morrissey. “We put the vision into practice.”
The developer adds that it will benefit the city financially in the long run.
“The tax space of this property is next to nothing and so we’re going to create a lot of tax space here and so we’re asking for some of that tax space to come back and help the development,” said Marino.