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Local Editorials

SVM EDITORIAL: A milestone for Sterling’s downtown

A ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday will mark the completion of the Lawrence Lofts redevelopment project in downtown Sterling. We offer our congratulations to everyone concerned – and there were many – who brought this important project to fruition.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: we like it when units of government work together with private entities for the good of the public.

The “good of the public,” in this case, consists of 20 affordable housing units in the revitalized second through fifth floors of the Lawrence Building in downtown Sterling.

Renamed Lawrence Lofts, these apartments, at 218 First Ave., will be spotlighted in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4 p.m. Thursday. The public is invited.

Afterward, tours of the second-floor apartments and the basement, with its fitness center, storage areas, and laundry room, will be given.

The first floor, by the way, will still be occupied by the Sterling branch of the Whiteside County Courthouse.

Upstairs, refurbished apartments range from 484 to 780 square feet. Rent, based on income, will be from $215 to $740 a month.

When all Lawrence Lofts apartments are full, there will be about 40 more people living in the downtown than before. Those folks, through their shopping dollars, are expected to provide an economic boost for nearby stores.

The city of Sterling got the ball rolling by partnering with Economic Growth Corp., based in Rock Island.

Funding was provided by no fewer than eight sources: Illinois Housing Development Authority, low-income housing tax credits, state affordable housing tax credits, Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, Affordable Housing Program, the Sterling Today façade program, Sauk Valley Bank, and the Illinois Attorney General's National Foreclosure Settlement Funds.

In addition, the city contributed by setting up a tax increment financing rebate program.

We also like it when, as John “Hannibal” Smith of “The A-Team” fame often said, a plan comes together.

And construction of this “plan,” launched Oct. 1, was finished 2 weeks ahead of the predicted 10-month time frame.

Although there’s a waiting list for people who want to apply for the apartments, pre-applications will be taken Thursday, an Economic Growth Corp. spokesman said.

Sterling residents can be pleased that their city government spearheaded a project to bring into usage four floors in the Lawrence Building that had been vacant since the 1960s.

They can also be pleased that the project will benefit the community, both individually (apartment rentals to low-income residents) and collectively (a stronger, more vibrant downtown).

We look forward to the benefits that are bound to accrue from this latest example of a public-private partnership.

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