Freeport wins $1.7M grant to remove downtown buildings, clean up soil

Published: May. 31, 2023 at 6:11 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - The city of Freeport was the major recipient of a $7.3 million pool of federal grant funds earmarked to clean up brownfields in Illinois.

“It’s nothing to sneeze at for a city of our size,” said Freeport Communications Director Kevyn Sutter.

Freeport will use its nearly $1.8 million to tear down two West Main Street buildings that were contaminated by a longtime dry-cleaning business. Sutter says the project opens many doors.

“That will really open the opportunity for an exciting developer,” she said, “someone who has a really great mind for what they want to do in our downtown. .”

Local civil engineering company Fehr Graham helped the Pretzel City land the money.

“The ultimate plan under requests for qualification would be to abate the existing buildings of other issues like asbestos then remove the building to be able to get down to the soil,” said Fehr Graham Project Manager Darin Stykel.

After the two buildings are razed and the soil is remediated, a developer will have a clean slate to work with in historic downtown Freeport.

“Hopefully it will become another viable property in downtown Freeport that somebody will want to build on,” Stykel added.

City officials say they’re confident that will happen because of the steps they’re taking to make the property safe.

“This is going to be environmentally conscience economic development for us, which is huge,” Sutter said.

Work will begin in 2024, Stykel said.

Other grant recipients include South Beloit, Dixon, Rock Falls and communities in Winnebago and Boone counties covered in the $1 million awarded to the R-1 Planning Council.