The Return of the Barber Colman Village

By  | 

What to do with the Barber Coleman Village has been on the minds of many here in the stateline for years, but Monday night Hendricks Development group gave the City of Rockford some guidance to redevelop the southwest side.

The plan maps out the potential for retail, commercial and educational opportunities, but how to overcome challenges like the lack of other economic activity and the area’s disconnection from downtown creates problems that will be difficult to erase.

The Barber Colman Village used to be a vibrant, thriving area, and with a little creativity and a plan, Hendricks Development Group says we could see that once again. Their vision consists of reusing some of the current buildings but making major improvements to their facade. At the focus of the changes is an academic campus to be named the center of excellence.

Hendricks Development Group Director Tim Weeden says, “This would be a place where maybe 15 to 20 colleges would provide various different classes.”

Weedon says a destination point like a college campus would create a mass of daily activities and that is what attracts people and future growth.

The plan has four phases that would take up to the year 2012 to complete. Hendricks Development Group says the ripple effect has been successful for them in other projects, but this is not going to be a cheep plan. The first phase alone would cost the city $6.2 million. The total price tag for the project is $42 million.

Ninth Ward Alderman Bill Timm says, “We have to take a good look at this plan. We have to be able to say that it will work and if it can’t we shouldn’t do it.”

Years ago the city promised those on the city's southwest side that this would be an area for economic growth. Future growth was why in 2002, Gray's IGA moved to the area.

Fifth Ward Alderman Victory Bell says, “I’m sure Gray’s has been struggling. That’s why we owe it to businesses in the area to develop. We can’t afford to sit here and do nothing.”

The next step is to create a task force to see what all would have to be done to make this vision part of our future.

Also at Monday night’s city council meeting plans are moving forward to make revitalize the Ingersoll building. A request for plans is now going out to anyone who would be interested in developing the Ingersoll site. Those plans are due to the City of Rockford by January.