Things seem even more uncertain for a historic downtown Rockford property. A plan submitted by the Midway Theatre was rejected Monday night by Rockford's Finance and Personnel Committee. But that still leaves a big empty building in the city's downtown with questions about its future.
Walk past the Midway Theatre and some issues are obvious. A front window is broken and open to the elements. But despite that, the city says it's up to code.
"It is safe to be in there," says Todd Cagnoni, community and economic services director for the City of Rockford.
The problem is no one is going in there. It's been vacant in the heart of the city for years. Around 2 year ago, the roof began caving in. The city's leveled more than $75,000 in fines again the Midway Theatre's owner Peter Crane. He fixed up the roof and his fine was reduced to $2,500. Crane has paid $100, but now wants to have the rest forgiven.
"It was a full deconstruction and reconstruction of the roof," Cagnoni says.
Cranes had also asked that fines against the properties next to the Midway to be lifted. Those are not his fines but he wants them released so he can buy the properties. He says his plan is to turn Midway in to a mixed-use building with a theatre, retail and office space. T
he city turned down his request. Alderman Venita Hervey says Crane has already gotten too many chances on too many of his properties.
"I'm sorry there's a point where you aren't a good neighbor, you aren't a good landlord. I looked at a lot of the properties and they contribute to blight," Hervey says.
Crane released a statement to us saying he wants to work with the city and go forward from this vote. He has historic tax credits to help remodel the Midway. He has to use them by December 2016.