By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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ROCKFORD — The city and real estate developer J. Jeffers & Co. have closed on the sale of the former Barber-Colman complex, marking the next step in the process to redevelop the vacant factory into a mix of apartments and businesses.
The city announced Friday that it closed on the $106 million Phase 1A of the project, when the largest structure at the corner of Rock and Loomis streets will be turned into 181 apartments. A new 336-space parking deck will also be built and a central building will be turned into 34 apartments under Phase 1A.
J. Jeffers purchased the property for $500,000 as part of its redevelopment deal with the city of Rockford, which also provides millions of dollars in financial support of the project.
“This is a significant milestone in the redevelopment of Barber-Colman and the continued transformation of southwest Rockford,” Mayor Tom McNamara said in a phone interview. “Especially with a complex capital stack and this environment with interest rates and things of that nature, it’s a big step for us.”
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The start of construction has not been announced, although J. Jeffers indicated earlier this year that it was targeting an October groundbreaking.
“We’re excited to be one step closer to revitalization of the 26-acres campus. Watch for construction to start soon,” the city of Rockford wrote in a social media post. “Special thanks to Title Underwriters Agency for managing the closing process and ensuring this historic transaction went as smooth as possible.”
Future phases of the project could lead to a total 964 living units and roughly 130,000 square feet of commercial space. The $170 million first phase, done in parts 1A and 1B, is designed create 334 apartments, the new parking deck and 105,000 square feet of commercial space. All historic structures are due to be renovated under the first phase.
The former manufacturing site dates back to 1907 and at one time employed more than 3,000 people. Barber-Colman operated on the site until 1984, when the business was sold to Reed-Chatwood Inc., which operated until the late 1990s. The city has owned the property since 2002.
Here’s a look at the city’s financial obligations in the proposed redevelopment deal.
New TIF District: The city will create a new tax-increment finance district that will expire in 2046, and it will reimburse 100% of the money generated by the TIF by the initial phase of construction.
$6M advance: The city will provide a $6 million advance from the TIF fund. This will be debt in that fund until the TIF generates enough money to repay it.
$7.25M loan: The city will provide a $7,250,000 no-interest loan to be repaid over 17 years starting Feb. 1, 2030.
$3.5M in infrastructure: The city will reimburse $3,500,000 in public infrastructure costs with $1.5 million coming from its water fund and the other $2 million coming from federal American Rescue Plan dollars.
$6.5M revolving loan: The city will provide the developer with $6,500,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s revolving loan fund. It is a no-interest loan that must be repaid in 15 years.
$2M settlement funding: The city will provide $2,000,000 from an environmental settlement a previous occupant of Barber-Colman.
$4M state grant: The city has secured a $4,000,000 Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity grant through state Rep. Maurice West that will be provided to the developer.
$500K permit credit: The city will provide a $500,000 credit toward building permits in the first phase of construction. The estimated cost the developer will pay in those permits is $1.5 million, resulting in $1 million net building permit revenue for the city.
$3M loan: The city will provide another $3 million loan at the start of Phase 1B. That no-interest loan will also be repaid Feb. 1, 2030, to Feb. 1, 2047.
90% reimburse: The city will reimburse 90% of the revenue generated in the TIF district during the second phase of construction. The remaining 10% will go back into the TIF fund for other eligible expenses.