Rockford applies for federal grant to clean up old watch factory - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Rockford applies for federal grant to clean up old watch factory

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ROCKFORD (WREX) -

It's empty now. But during the 1800s, Rockford Watch Factory was buzzing with workers.  

"It's certainly a part of the industrial history of Rockford," Gary Anderson with Gary Anderson Architects says.   

It's just sitting there now, but city leaders say they want to do something more with it. Staffers are applying for a $200,000 Brownfield Federal Grant to help clean up the mess.

"It's a cleanup specifically for asbestos removal," Wayne Dust, the Rockford Planning Administrator says. "It's an old factory building built in 1875 and at that time asbestos was commonly used throughout the building." 

However, there's a catch. City leaders say it's a competitive process to get that extra cash, but it's not impossible. 

The city got those funds in the past to help revitalize other areas like the UW Health Sports Factory. Leaders say they rely on several different grant dollars to help revamp parts of downtown. 

"They're essential in redeveloping these kind of properties whether it's the Amerock property, they got one for the indoor sports center, a couple for Barber Coleman," John Phelps, the executive director of the Rockford Local Development Corporation says.   

As for what the building might turn into, that's still up in the air. But, leaders say there are several possibilities like apartments or office space. 

"I think there's an opportunity there for a lot of different kids of uses that could be very complimentary to the building. the building lends itself to a tremendous amount of natural light that you don't get in a lot of places," Anderson says. "Plus, a lot of character and charm that you get that already currently exists." 
  
If the city is awarded the brownfield grant money, it says clean up could start as early as next fall. 

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