Two subdivisions, riverfront development among Rock Falls native’s big plans for her hometown

A repurposed Pignatelli building also on Amber Hoffman’s to-do list

Real estate contractor Amber (Morris) Hoffman is looking to build 138 single family homes in two plots in Rock Falls.

ROCK FALLS – Rock Falls native Amber (Morris) Hoffman, a residential and commercial real estate contractor, has returned to her hometown with big dreams to boost the number of new single-family homes and to help redevelop the riverfront.

Hoffman, owner of Rock River Establishments LLC, who’s also known as Property Chick, plans to develop two new subdivisions that will bring a total of 138 single-family homes to the city, and also plans to soon redevelop the Pignatelli building downtown.

One subdivision will be built in the Marsha Lane area, off Dixon Avenue, on 49 lots on about 22 acres of land owned by Rock Falls attorney Louis Pignatelli, a longtime friend and business associate of her family.

Each lot is a little bigger than a quarter of an acre. The homes would range from 1,800 to 2,200 square feet and will cost from $300,000 to $415,000, Hoffman said.

Two 10-plex apartment buildings also are in the plans further down the road, she said.

The other subdivision, Glen’s Gardens, would be built on 42 acres now owned by the city behind the new Moore Tires site at the south end of state Route 40 at Fourth Street, near the Hennepin Canal.

Planned are 89 homes, from 1,600 to 2,000 square feet, with garages and basements that will sell for $289,000 to $349,000, Hoffman said.

The Gardens will be built in four phases, about 26 homes per phase, starting with two model homes, then two more, which also will be for sale, she said.

She has contracts with the city in the works for those four sites, she said Tuesday, shortly before ground-breaking ceremonies were held for the two projects.

Actual construction of the model homes is set to begin in a few weeks, and both projects will be built simultaneously, she said.

The city bought the land back in 2016 as an investment, and named it Glen’s Gardens Subdivision after the late Glen Kuhlemier, who as mayor and alderman worked for many years to acquire the property for the city.

Whiteside Area Career Center building trades students from three classes, about 58 teens in all, will be involved in all aspects of all of Hoffman’s projects, from development to construction, for a full hands-on learning experience, instructor Matthew Hicks said.

Hoffman, 45, recently returned to the area from Arizona, following her three children and her grandchildren, who moved back first.

She’s happy to be home, and to do “something amazing” for her hometown, she said.

“It’s time for a new chapter,” she said. “I’m loving it. I’m so excited.”

In addition to the Marsha Lane and Glen’s Gardens developments, Hoffman also will be redeveloping Louis Pignatelli Sr. and Jr.’s 14,000-square-foot building at the corner of First Avenue and East Second Street, empty since 2007, when Sauk Valley Bank moved to 904 First Ave.

It was stripped of its facade more than five years ago for safety reasons.

Its rebirth is the first phase of Hoffman’s plans to breathe new life into the riverfront.

The building, which sits at the second-busiest intersection in Whiteside County, will have a bar, a restaurant and a food court area on the first floor, and a cigar lounge and outdoor patio upstairs, with a view of the Rock River, Hoffman said.

If all goes as planned, she then wants to build a brewery along the riverfront that features a sculptural element – a train crashing out of the building – followed by phase three, up to seven commercial buildings and a four-story condo building with garages behind it down by the Lower Dam.

She has a right of first refusal for that riverfront land, meaning if someone else comes along and wants to buy it, she has a year to match or better that offer, Hoffman said.

Hoffman is following in her father’s footsteps, in more ways than one.

She is the daughter of Donald Morris, who owned D&M Builders back in the day, before he moved the family to Arizona. Morris was one of the original developers of the existing Marsha Lane-area neighborhood, along with Pignatelli.

The Morrises also owned Rheelings grocery store, which was on Dixon Avenue behind Hardee’s, where a small strip mall now is located.

Hoffman has been job-shadowing her dad since she was 11, and was a Realtor before starting her own residential and commercial contracting company, which her brother, Brandon Morris, their children and her parents also work for.

Her dad, in fact, will be coming back to town for the build, she said.

Interested in a home?

Realtor Cindy Brackemeyer, of Coldwell Banker Howes & Jefferies in Clinton, Iowa, also a Rock Falls native who’s now living in Morrison, is the buyer’s agent and can be reached at cindy@cindybrackemeyer.com or at 563-242-3265 in her office, or 815-631-1982 on her cell.

Kathleen Schultz

Kathleen A. Schultz

Kathleen Schultz is a Sterling native with 40 years of reporting and editing experience in Arizona, California, Montana and Illinois.