Extension of tax credits signals more redevelopment for downtown - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Extension of tax credits signals more redevelopment for downtown Rockford


From the Prairie Street Brewhouse to the Burnham Lofts. Rockford's historic buildings have been brought back to life through renovations. 

"I think everyone is starting to recognize, wow, we've done something down here," says architect Gary Anderson. "Things have changed dramatically."

Anderson says this revitalization has been made possible through the River Edge Historic Preservation Tax Credit.  Something the city will have for the next four years after Governor Bruce Rauner signed an extension on Friday. 

"Our case in Rockford here we have a gap of value at the end of day," says Anderson. "This provides a gap filler when we don't have TIF available or some other funding mechanisms that are not really available."

Rockford is one of only five cities in the state to benefit from the incentive.  It gives developers a 25% rebate on the project's qualified expenses. 

"The credit ends up in most cases converted to cash which is invested into the project to complete the project itself," says Urban Equities Properties President Justin Fern. 

Fern converted the Rockford Trust Building into the upscale Burnham Lofts.  Now he's renovating the Valencia Apartments on Fisher Avenue.  There's plenty of other buildings that could get the credit.  Like the Midway Theater on East State Street, or the Times Theater on North Main Street which have sat vacant for years.  Another big project that will benefit from the credit is the Amerock Hotel project. 

"If you combine that  state credit with the federal credit you're basically offsetting 45% of projects costs," says Fern.  "Using it with other development financing tools it's a win. It's a win for everybody."

A momentum of renovation, that could pick up speed with the guarantee of a major financial break. 

"I think what we've seen so far....We ain't seen nothin' yet," says Anderson. 

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