ROCK FALLS – The city was awarded a $2.2 million state grant to acquire, remediate, demolish and redevelop the former Micro Industries property downtown.
The city condemned the building at 200 W. Second St. in May 2019 because of structural problems. Engineers determined there was a danger the north wall might collapse, and there also were concerns about beams in a loading dock area along Second.
Rather than pay for repairs, owner Lance Robinson opted to shut down the business and that October filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
The city will use the grant money to acquire the site, remove the asbestos, tear down the buildings and build a much-needed parking lot, said City Administrator Robbin Blackert, who wrote the grant proposal and submitted it in December.
That process will take months, she said.
The site, which takes up two blocks, actually has two buildings, a one-story on the east end and the dilapidated three-story factory section.
Should a developer step up and want to do something with the east building, the city would consider it; otherwise, the entire site will be torn down, Blackert said.
The parking lot, which will alleviate a lot of the problems downtown bar patrons have on weekends, will not take up the entire site, though.
“There will be land available for development,” Blackert said.
Micro Industries, founded in 1959, designed and operated die casting machines for the processing of a variety of metal parts; at the time of its closure, it was down to only seven to 10 employees, from a relatively recent work force of 50 to 100.
“It’s a shame” the building was allowed to fall into disrepair, she said, adding that its removal “is really going to change the landscape” of the downtown and will be especially noticeable to people coming over the First Avenue bridge into Rock Falls.
Writing and submitting the grant cost the city about $25,000, because it had to obtain a structural report, determine how much asbestos is in the building, get remediation and demolition estimates and submit a design for the parking lot, Blackert said.
The $2,200,717 grant is part of $106 million in capital grants awarded through the Rebuild Illinois Downtowns and Main Streets capital program to revitalize 50 commercial corridors and main streets statewide, Gov. JB Pritzker’s office and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity said in a news release Monday.
The RBI Downtowns and Main Streets Capital Program supports local commercial corridors, with concentrations of businesses hurt by the pandemic.
The state allocated $50 million for this project in 2021, but because of the “high quality” of applications and ongoing need, as well as the number of projects eligible for federal COVID-19 relief funds, funding was increased to $106 million.
That allowed the state to support 29 community revitalization projects, the release said.
Grants ranged from $398,552 to $3 million.