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Harkness receives city facade grant

ROCK FALLS – The city is giving a local developer a facade grant to assist with a development project near the riverfront.

Pete Harkness will receive a $5,000 grant to help pay for work at 100 W. First St. in Rock Falls, formerly a CGH Medical Center clinic.

Harkness, operating as River Bridge LLC for this project, bought and is renovating the building. CGH outgrew the space and built a new $3.2 million clinic in Rock Falls, at 1315 Dixon Ave., that opened Jan. 28.

He has no firm plans for how the building will be used, he said.

He also is developing the RB&W site on East Second Street, where My Place Hotels wants to put a 46-unit building on the site. That is an $8 million project.

Harkness will have a $1 million cap on reimbursable expenses for the hotel parcel through the city's riverfront tax increment financing district. He also is eligible for incentives through the Whiteside/Carroll Enterprise Zone and the property's location within a federal Opportunity Zone.

The city's facade program was launched in 2014, and administered by the Rock Falls Community Development Corp. When the RFCDC disbanded, Rock Falls Tourism took over the program, including its funding. The city put in $20,000 to get the program off the ground.

Business owners must pay the entire cost of the facade work, and if selected for a grant, can be reimbursed for half of the cost, up to $5,000.

Harkness will be reimbursed for some stone, wood and painting projects, as well as HVAC and roof work. The estimated cost of the work included in the grant application is $50,000.

Facade grants usually aren't given for general maintenance purposes, mainly because program administrators don't want the grants to be used to help owners quickly flip properties.

Eligible projects, usually limited to exterior work, include awnings, signage, lighting, doors, windows, exterior walls, cornices, decorative detailing and structural reinforcement.

Rock Falls Tourism also budgets annually for two other grant programs. An event sponsorship award and a marketing promotion grant are available for events and opportunities that have potential for bringing overnight visitors who will spend money in the region.

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