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Local

City completes guidelines, covenants for RB&W District

Firm development offers expected soon for interstate properties

Construction crews carve into the Rock Falls riverfront in October as they get the area ready for riprap.  From the Holiday Inn to a city park, the riverfront has been reshaped in recent years, and work isn’t done yet, which should keep the city’s Industrial Development Commission busy. The  commission does much of the heavy lifting in dealing with the sale and use of city-owned property, including its industrial parks.
Construction crews carve into the Rock Falls riverfront in October as they get the area ready for riprap. From the Holiday Inn to a city park, the riverfront has been reshaped in recent years, and work isn’t done yet, which should keep the city’s Industrial Development Commission busy. The commission does much of the heavy lifting in dealing with the sale and use of city-owned property, including its industrial parks.

ROCK FALLS – The city’s Industrial Development Commission was given fair warning that its workload was about to increase. That time has arrived.

City-owned property at the RB&W site on East Second Street and along the interstate has been marketed for about a year by Retail Attractions, the city’s development consultants. The firm’s efforts are starting to show tangible results.

The city received the first draft of a sale contract March 23 for 5.6 acres of property at the RB&W District, across the street from the Holiday Inn Express & Suites.

The Industrial Development Commission does much of the heavy lifting in dealing with the sale and use of city-owned property, including its industrial parks. The torch is still being passed from the Rock Falls Community Development Corp., which used to handle such matters when it did development work for the city.

The RFCDC did much of the work on design guidelines for the RB&W District, starting to prepare for redevelopment of the land when the Reliant buildings were taken down. The city has gone over them and made some changes so they are in place before a contract is signed with a developer.

“When the design guidelines were first done, RFCDC had made itself the committee to go through, but they aren’t here anymore, so these things will all come through the IDC,” City Administrator Robbin Blackert said.

The commission met Thursday, giving its approval to the final draft of the RB&W guidelines, as well as covenants that spell out what is prohibited or restricted in the development area.

The covenants are divided into four areas at the RB&W District, which total nearly 15 acres.

“There is one for the hotel, one for the riverfront park, another for the 5.6 acres the developers want, and then the remainder of the Reliant land,” Alderman Glen Kuhlemier said.

The RB&W District guidelines and covenants are ready to bring to the council, but now the city must scramble to do the same work for the interstate properties it bought last year.

“We’re starting to draft design guidelines for the Schmitt and Hallman properties, and those will also come through the IDC,” Blackert said.

Time is of the essence, however, since nothing is on the books for land that primarily had been used for agriculture. Blackert said the committee can expect to have some offers on those prime retail spots in the next 4 or 5 months, so the city will cut some corners.

“We’re going to basically revamp what Sterling has done for the area near Menards and use that – we just don’t have time to recreate the wheel,” said Mark Searing, the city’s building inspector.

The developer pursuing the RB&W property is 1768 Investments LLC, a subsidiary of GBT Realty Corp. in Nashville, Tennessee.

On March 16, the commission OK’d a letter of intent to buy the property for $789,000, and now both sides are in a 180-day due-diligence period.

Either side can back out, but the developer has $5,000 in an escrow account, guaranteeing that the city can’t sell it to another party during that time.

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