ROCK FALLS – The former Neon Moon in Rock Falls is getting a new life.
The building, at 1515 W. Route 30, is undergoing a major facelift, thanks to a new owner.
The former country and rock bar had been empty for years.
The city took possession of the property on July 26 through abandonment, paying no money for it. It had been empty since 1995, and owner Charlie Grossman of Chicago was delinquent on his property taxes, according to City Administrator Robbin Blackert.
The city had planned to demolish the building. The goal was to get the property cleaned up one way or another, Building Inspector Mark Searing said.
The city’s Industrial Development Commission sold the property to Rock Falls resident Jeff Moore for $1,000, Blackert said. Moore is the owner of Moore Tires in Rock Falls.
Under the contract, Moore must bring the building to code, which Searing said already had begun.
Moore is cleaning the property and has put on a new roof and a new facade around the front of the building, Searing said. The building design is for office space for lease in the front and storage in the back, he said.
Searing said he is glad to see the property find an owner who is making the site into a “good, viable community property.”
“We finally have a viable piece of property the city is not putting money into,” he said. “For the last number of years, we were mowing ... the property.”
The city has hired contractors to mow, then billed the property owner. Bills have not been paid for years, he said.
It was time to take action, Searing said.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “The previous bar has been closed down since 1998. It went downhill. We had a lot of problems with the building, break-ins, theft from the building, all kinds of vandalism.”
Searing said the renovation will begin to “fix up the west end of the [U.S. Route 30] corridor.”
This is not the only building the city has recently turned over to residents who aim to improve the structures.
The city recently leased the building at 403 W. Second St. to Brian Tribley, pastor of Firehouse of God Ministries. Tribley is turning part of the former fire station into a museum and a place to store the church’s fire trucks.
Blackert said both moves will benefit the city and its residents.
“We felt like with an increase in property value, that would increase the city’s EAV and just getting property taxes in, ... no property taxes were being paid,” Blackert said of Moore’s purchase. “It was a good investment. We appreciate the fact that Rock Falls people want to invest in Rock Falls.”
She also said the sale and lease of the two buildings were “just the start of things to come with investments in property.”
“We’ve kind of been very public with the fact that we’ve got problem property and we’re determined to take care of them,” she said. “The new attitude is, we’re going to get control so we can get them in the hands of people who are going to renovate and take care of them.”