Agreement Expected in $32M Community College Tech Center Deal

If all stakeholders move forward, Illinois’ Rock Valley College could soon see construction on a 22-acre advanced manufacturing center.

by Jeff Kolkey, Rockford Register Star / September 25, 2018 0

(TNS) — ROCKFORD, Ill. — Rock Valley College and city officials appear to have reached an agreement to transform part of the former 22-acre Barber-Colman factory campus into a $32.3 million advanced manufacturing technology center.

It is a first phase of a vision to turn the dilapidated manufacturing campus into Colman Village — a mixed-use development of residential, businesses and offices anchored by a Rock Valley College manufacturing education school on South Main Street.

"This is a critical project not only for the redevelopment of the South Main area as a community development project, but it is also an economic development project," City Administrator Todd Cagnoni said. "There isn't a business that we talk to ... that workforce development isn't a key component of the business needs, and how we are going to align our existing citizens to those employment opportunities."

Members of the city's Planning & Development Committee on Monday night approved a development agreement that teams the city and the college with the Rockford Local Development Corp., which will serve as the "master developer."

The Rock Valley College Board of Trustees is expected to consider approval of the agreement Tuesday night and the City Council is expected to vote on it next week.

Under terms of the agreement, Rock Valley College will spemd $9.2 million of its capital funds for the redevelopment of two buildings and parts of two others on the campus. Rockford and Winnebago County will contribute $3.2 million toward public infrastructure including parking, lighting and sewers in addition to $2.2 million from an Economic Development Administration grant and $1.2 million from a U.S. EPA grant.

The remainder of the project would be paid for with a combination of federal and state historic tax credits and new market tax credits.

The next step after approval of the development agreement, is to work with the Rockford Local Development Corp. that will engage architects, engineers and tax consultants to develop accurate cost estimates and tax credit funding models. The non-profit will be reimbursed $300,000 in development fees payable over 18 months after closing on financing for the project.

Rockford acquired the Barber-Colman site in 2002 for $775,000 and has over the years removed dilapidated buildings, removed contamination and cleaned up pollutants.

Rock Valley College Chief Operating Officer Jim Ryan said the college would expand and improve its advanced manufacturing programs at Colman Village. If approved, the college is committing to lease 82,000-square-feet of space.

The timetable for the commencement and completion of construction is dependent on when tax credit investors can be secured. Best case scenario, if all goes well, is a spring construction start and a fall 2020 opening, Ryan said.

©2018 Rockford Register Star, Ill. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.