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Dixon has a Knack for development

City plans to buy property for $185,000 as part of ongoing riverfront redevelopment plan

DIXON – The city plans to buy the former Walter C. Knack Co. property as part of the Viaduct Point revitalization project to spur riverfront development.

The City Council approved taking over the contract to buy the three parcels at 501 and 511 W. First St. for $185,000 Monday.

It's part of land acquisition dominoes lined up by the city and the Lee County Industrial Development Association to secure 13 parcels along the west end of the riverfront and downtown, about 10 acres stretching from the Peoria Avenue Bridge to the viaducts.

The Knack property purchase was under contract with a LCIDA land trust, and the city is taking over that contract.

The main advantage of the city buying the property is to have it be a potential candidate for the $300,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields grant the city received in May to do environmental assessments at blighted properties primed for redevelopment, Mayor Li Arellano Jr. said.

The grant can apply only to city-owned property.

Knack Co. was acquired by Arch Vending Inc., a full-line vendor of beverages, snacks, sandwiches and other foods, in 2013 after being in business for about 35 years.

With Viaduct Point, the city aims to open up development for anything ranging from a hotel or movie theater to strips of small shops, as well as extending the bike path west along the river to the viaducts.

"The goal is to spur development in the whole region around it," Arellano said.

Another piece of the Viaduct Point puzzle is purchasing the Dixon Iron & Metal Co. scrapyard.

The council approved a contract a year ago giving the city exclusive rights to buy the property at 78 Monroe Ave. for $310,000, and signed off on a 3-month extension to that contract last month to continue environmental tests and other due diligence.

Dixon Iron is closed and has been owned by Jim Pitchford since 2007. The city has a similar contract to buy a nearby house at 86 Monroe Ave. owned by his son, William Pitchford for $30,000, and the council approved the same extension for that contract.

"The next key move is getting something worked out with DIMCO," Arellano said.


The City Council next meets at 5:30 p.m. March 19 at City Hall, 121 W. Second St.

Go to or call City Hall at 815-288-1485 for an agenda or more information.

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