Eminent Domain One Step Nearer for Downtown Business

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- A business that has called downtown Rockford home for 70 years may be uprooted to make way for the planned Amerock hotel and conference center.

On Monday night, Rockford city council approved a measure to start the process of taking over three buildings on South Main Street owned by the Warshawsky muffler business. The proposal has to be voted on once more and if it passes, city lawyers then have permission to make a final offer to the buildings’ owners. If that final offer is rejected, lawyers for the city will start the process for eminent domain. That's when the city takes over a property for public use, in this case, to add parking lots for the hotel and convention center. The lots wouldn’t just be for hotel guests, they’d be open to visitors to other downtown sites like the BMO Harris Bank Center and the future Amtrak station.

"This is something that’s needed regardless of whether the Amerock would move to fruition or not,” says City Administrator Jim Ryan. “However within the Amerock agreement there are specific performance incentives and objectives and if they don't reach those, we don’t have to make those investments."

Ryan adds, says discussions have been going on for a few months the with Warshawsky owners. City lawyers say they have offered the owners the appraised values for their buildings but won't say how much that is. The city would also be responsible for relocating the shop and its equipment to a new location. In its agreement with the Amerock hotel developer, Gorman, the city pledged make around $16 million worth of parking improvements in downtown.

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