ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Last night city council gave the OK to turn the former Amerock building into a more than $50 million hotel and convention center. While some are celebrating, others are not happy with how the project is being funded.
Developer Gorman and Company will pay to build the 150 room hotel and convention center. They expect to spend $52 million on the project.
The city of Rockford has pledged to do parking improvements around the building, Those will cost $16.6 million. That figure includes interest on loans that will be taken out to pay for the project.
The current plan is to use $900,000 that was set aside in the city’s capital improvement plan in 2013, plus $200,000 that’s come from parking fines. Another $1.2 million would help pay for the new parking deck on Green Street and other parking improvements in downtown. Aldermen had already set aside $2.2 million spread out over the next 4 years to pay for parking improvements. There are also plans to apply for tax credits to the tune of $2.8 million. Over 7 years that money would have pay for interest on the loan the city would take out to pay for parking improvements.
These improvements were things the city planned to do anyway but have moved up because of this project.
The only project Aldermen have considered pulling any funding from is the Whitman Street Interchange. Aldermen Jamie Gethuics put together a proposal on that last night that the council will go over during a special meeting this weekend. Some aldermen would like to reduce the scale of that project to just repave the roads and replace the bridges instead of redesigning the entire interchanged. That could free up another $10 million for the parking improvements as well as general street repairs around the city.
These improvements will also be paid for with the money made when people park in the new deck once it opens.