Closing the curtain at Rockford's Midway Theatre is the last resort in a dispute between the building's owner and city hall. The theater needs renovating after part of its roof caved in this spring. But, after months of stagnant construction work, the owner's down to what could be his final chance to come through.
Owner Peter Crane proved to city lawyers that he's secure to fund redeveloping Midway, he provided written proof during Friday's code hearing that he's getting financing for the project. That means both parties could soon come to a new agreement; more time for Crane to redevelop in exchange for a bigger penalty. His current fine is around $45,000.
"We are negotiating, at this point, an additional timeline under which he would suffer a nearly double amount of a fine and have to complete some other milestones between now and a date to be determined later this year for him to bring the property up to full compliance." -says city attorney Jennifer Cacciapaglia.
Crane needs to deconstruct eight trusses holding the roof up. The city asked him to do this in the summer and so far, he's only taken down two or three. He failed to request an extension when his first deadline, August 4th, came and went. Crane did ask for more time in November, but he needed to include a written statement from a design expert saying the building is in good enough shape to endure the extension, which he didn't provide. The city's not letting him get away with that again. He has to submit that paperwork, plus administrators have another stipulation.
"We're asking him to actually come to a code hearing every month to provide proof that they did enter into those milestones." -says Cacciapaglia.
Crane's attorney Jim Hursh says he has made some improvements.
"He's cleaned it up a great deal, he's done a lot of work on the inside that can't be done on from the outside, he has replaced a portion of the roof, a portion of the ceiling and now he's getting it prepped for more setting of the trusses and things like that."
Both parties are scheduled to meet again February 1st. If they can't finalize the agreement by then, the hearing continues.
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