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City leaders discuss future of Barber Colman Project

Residents attended an informational meeting Thursday night to learn more about what role this historic building of the past may have in Rockford’s future.
Published: Mar. 11, 2022 at 2:01 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Half a million dollars. That’s the price Rockford alders agreed on in September to sell the historic Barber Colman complex to a private developer from Milwaukee.

What was once a thriving two-city block complex for more than a century.. the Barber Colman building has been only an eyesore for the last twenty years. But after several near misses trying to revive the complex, city leaders and neighbors hope the latest proposed project is a hit.

“the way the plan is looking for the future, it’s very much a step forward for us to at least bring our businesses back,” says resident Susana Gamboa.

Susana Gamboa’s mother opened the first Mexican bakery in the city which closed in 2015. Gamboa says she hopes a revitalized Barber Colman project could lead to the La Dispensa re-opening.

“I’m gonna just see my mother’s dream and all her wishes coming to fruition even though she already passed away,” says Gamboa.

City leaders are cautiously optimistic Milwaukee-based J-Jeffers and Company is serious about investing in Rockford.

“it’s really important that they are engaged in this process that it maintains the character, the history of what the Barber Colman campus was, but also the possibility of what it can be,” says Community & Economic Development Director Karl Franzen.

J-Jeffers and Co. Senior VP of Development Brian Loftin says the company plans for the Barber Colman complex are not yet set in stone, but he imagines it becoming a booming residential area just south of downtown.

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