Federal Courthouse

By: Erica Hurtt
By: Erica Hurtt

The city of Rockford is preparing for construction of a new federal courthouse, but before crews start work, several downtown businesses and organizations will have to find a new home.

For two decades, WAVE has been serving Rockford's domestic violence victims and substance abusers from an office on South Church Street, but now the organization is forced to find a new home to make way for a federal courthouse.

Along with WAVE, the city has made offers to several other businesses along South Court and Church Streets. If owners reject those offers the city can exercise eminent domain which lets the city seize the properties if they pay landowners fair market value, but fair market value for these older buildings isn't enough which is creating problems for wave.

The government will pay $250,000 for the building and it will cost wave $1 million to build a new facility. Despite the challenges, the city leader says the process is going well.

"We've made contact with all of the owners. Our relationship we feel is very good. Obviously there's a disagreement on price but we think we'll get there short of eminent domain proceedings."

As for WAVE, the organization plans to relocate to the old bakery at Winnebago and Green Streets, but the non-profit will likely need public support to foot the bill for the big move. WAVE faces another challenge, its other property; a transition housing facility is being taken by the county for the new jail.

Meanwhile, city administrator Forsman says it will cost the city about $3 million to purchase all of the properties for the federal courthouse. The federal government will reimburse the city for the cost.


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