Two Mansions to Become RHA's Future Offices

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Some rundown mansions in a dangerous area of Rockford could soon be getting a facelift.

There are small signs of life outside two Rockford mansions that have sat empty for years, and now the buildings may get a second chance to thrive.

"It’s a definite plus to have them revamped a little bit," Joe Owen, Director of Development for the ORCHiD Neighborhood Association, said.

Owen lives down the street from two historic homes in the 500 block of S. Third Street. He says fixing the broken windows and giving them an overall facelift is just the next step is his neighborhood's revitalization.

"The new Morgan Street Bridge, the new roundabout, and the new housing that has already been built here," Owen explained.

Now the old homes could also have new tenants, the Rockford Housing Authority. The agency already owns the properties and is now deciding how to use them. One option is turning the houses into office space.

“We want to be in the neighborhoods where we have housing so it just made sense that we worked to continue to make improvements that Jane Addams has started there," Jodi Stromberg, Redevelopment Director for RHA, said.

RHA and Gorman and Company plan on working together on the plan. The developer plans on using the same strategy to pay for the roughly one million dollar project as they did for the renovations to the old Amerock building, through historic tax credits.

Owen says the change is not only a positive for his neighborhood, but also the city as a whole.

"Ultimately with all the positive this is bringing to the neighborhood other people who want to see this in other areas also see, you know, you're taking an active role in make the community a better place to live for all of us," Owen said.

One of those homes was built in 1850 and was owned by Gilbert Woodruff who was once the Mayor of Rockford.

RHA hopes to start construction on the homes within the next year to year and a half. Once it's done RHA will lease its current building.

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