Rock Falls has a buyer for RB&W development site

September 5, 2018

ROCK FALLS – Four months after a development deal for 5.6 acres of land at the RB&W site fell apart, the city has a buyer for the riverfront property.

This time the sale agreement is being drawn up with a local investor, Sterling businessman Pete Harkness. Paperwork was filed with the state June 22 to set up a limited liability company for the development project. The LLC has an interesting name – Zesty Meatloaf.

The sale price for the East Second Street property that extends from Avenue A to Wood Avenue is $700,000, less than the $789,000 offer made last year by 1768 Investments LLC.

The first draft of the sales contract with the Tennessee-based developers was received in March 2017. A nonbinding letter of intent on the land sale was drawn up, and after three extensions were granted on the 180-day due diligence period, the plug was pulled on the deal in May.

Neither the city nor Harkness have disclosed plans for how the land will be used. Technically, the city’s Industrial Development Commission owns the land and that body will enter into the sale contract.

“There are no finalized plans yet – he doesn’t have to give us a site plan until we draw up a redevelopment agreement,” City Administrator Robbin Blackert told the City Council on Tuesday. “We do know that the use would be within the city’s guidelines.”

The area is zoned for mixed use and the city figures retail will be part of the new plans, and businesses already located here could play a big part in its development.

“There are a lot of local business people who would like to move to the riverfront,” Blackert said.

City officials believe the property’s inclusion in the Rock Falls Opportunity Zone played a role in the land sale. In May, it was announced that areas in Dixon, Rock Falls and Savanna were among 327 areas statewide to receive the federal designation that uses tax incentives to stimulate development.

The Rock Falls Opportunity Zone includes the central part of the city, running along state Route 40 between the Rock River and U.S. Route 30.

“We think the land became a lot more likely to be developed after it became a part of the Opportunity Zone, and it’s exciting that the entire riverfront, including the Limestone and Parrish-Alford areas are in it,” Blackert said.

After the previous deal fell apart, a local investor could be just what the doctor ordered.

“This is different than the last contract. We’re definitely happy this is a local developer – someone who is genuinely interested in seeing the area be successful,” Blackert said.

Harkness couldn’t be reached for comment.

Storm damage

Also Tuesday, City Water Superintendent Ted Padilla said the water plant was struck by lightning at about 11:30 p.m. Sunday. Damage to equipment is estimated at between $15,000 and $20,000. The city has a $5,000 deductible on the insurance policy that covers the damage.

New vehicles

The council approved the purchase of two vehicles for the city’s broadband department. State bids were accepted in the amount of $28,160 for a 2018 Ford Explorer and $29,380 for a 2018 Ford F-150 truck.


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