City leaders cautiously optimistic about Barber-Colman sale

City of Rockford said it hopes to have a blueprint for the building’s future in 6 months
Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 5:17 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - The City of Rockford is one step closer bringing the Barber-Colman building, that’s sat empty for decades, back to life.

“I thought, well this is good,” said South West Ideas for Today and Tomorrow, Vice President Rudy Valdez. “But I’m cautiously optimistic.”

Valdez said he tries to balance optimism with realism, after hearing about an agreement between the City of Rockford and a Milwaukee-based real estate firm that could bring life back to the former Barber-Colman site off South Main Street.

“We’ve been down this road before. There’s been, the most recent has been the advanced technology group from Rock Valley College,” said Valdez. “The city did so much work with the county and all these partners, and Rock Valley College itself, and then at the last minute, it got changed.”

Karl Franzen, with the City of Rockford, said there’s a lot of work that needs to be done before the project with J. Jeffers and Co. gets going.

“They’re going to do their due diligence and figure out the market and figure out what the master redevelopment is going to look like,” Franzen said.

But in 6 months time, Franzen said he hopes to have a blueprint for the building’s future.

“They’ll have a decision to make,” said Franzen. “Do they actually want to finalize and purchase the property and it’s theirs, or do they want to say no this isn’t going to work.”

Despite a few unsuccessful revitalization plans for the site, Franzen is optimistic about this one. He said this developer appreciates the property.

“This is where Rockford started. This is where Rockford was founded,” Franzen said. “So it’s so crucially important to the community development of Rockford. That’s been our number one priority.”

If the sale continues after the 6 month due diligence period, the new building will be redeveloped over the next 7 to 10 years.

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