Whenever something wins a statewide award, it has earned the community’s attention.
The Lawrence Lofts residential development in downtown Sterling is such a project.
It has won the Jon Linfield Award.
In case you’ve never heard of the Jon Linfield Award, it has been given out by the Illinois Housing Development Authority since 2010.
The award goes to a rural community that has exhibited innovation and excellence in providing affordable housing.
So, of various affordable housing projects across the state in the past year, Lawrence Lofts was rated the most innovative and excellent of the bunch.
We can see why.
The project took the long-vacant second through fifth floors of the Lawrence Building and turned them into 20 affordable rental units.
It took quite a team effort. The city partnered with Sterling Today and the nonprofit Economic Growth Corp. of Rock Island to complete the $5.6 million project. Financially, additional partners were brought to bear to make the revitalization project happen.
The result is 20 additional affordable rental housing units that the city otherwise would not have had, and possibly a template for tackling additional redevelopment projects.
Sterling leaders are correct to look toward the Economic Growth Corp. to see whether this entity would be interested in getting involved in other projects along the city’s riverfront.
As Mayor Skip Lee remarked, “They are good at looking at figures and telling you how realistic a project is.”
Nothing succeeds like success, and the Economic Growth Corp. has demonstrated its ability to be successful here and elsewhere.
The Jon Linfield Award being given to Sterling has more significance than one might first comprehend.
The first seven Linfield Awards all went to projects in central, southern and western Illinois – places like Jacksonville, Jerseyville, Marion, Macomb, Lincoln, Paris, Gillespie, Bunker Hill and Staunton.
This year’s award is the first time that a community north of Interstate 80 brought home the bacon.
We’re glad to see that.
We’re also glad that Sterling’s innovative spirit has received statewide recognition.
We hope the award inspires Sterling leaders to redouble their efforts to build partnerships that can bring about further redevelopment of the city’s downtown and riverfront.
If nothing else, it should reassure Sterling residents of the value to the community of the Lawrence Lofts project.