An historic landmark on Rockford's East side could house students once again. It also has a shot at a tax break for restoration.
Jackson School is an empty building now, but it may not be for long after a 7 to 3 vote. Some city leaders think utilizing the space will help the school's surroundings.
"When the school district closed Jackson School, every home in that neighborhood went down in value." -explains City of Rockford Community & Economic Development Director Reid Montgomery.
The century-old building will be Rockford's newest charter school if this plan goes through, but that's not all. Aldermen voted to expand the River Edge Re-Development fund boundaries to include Jackson School. The fund is put in place to fix up old buildings. That would make Jackson eligible to apply for federal and state historic tax credits.
"That would take 45% of the cost of the development off of the project." -Montgomery adds.
5th ward Alderman Venita Hervey was one of three "no" votes. She did not want to see a change in the River Edge Re-Development boundaries.
"I believe that we kept those boundaries compact in order to make a huge impact in a relatively small area and I believe that by expanding, we're going to water down the impact that the River Edge Re-Devlopment zone can have." -says Hervey.
She thinks the building will be a great addition to the area's charter school system. The problem is funding some of its restoration.
"I'm absolutely in support of it, I just don't believe that the River Edge expansion was the way to go about it."
The expansion and charter school implementation was approved as a Committee report Monday night. It'll be up for an ordinance vote by next week. If it passes, Montgomery says the plan is to have the school up and running by August of this year.
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