Stalled Tavern plans on Crow River property revived

Loretto-based Allen Max Construction’s plans for Rockford’s Tavern on the Crow, a family-style bar and grill restaurant, had not materialized by the end of 2016 as planned.

But clear communication between company-owner Tom Belanger and the City about setbacks and plans moving forward looks to have salvaged the project for 2017.

The Rockford City Council had previously approved the development of the restaurant, a 300-person event center, and an additional 3,000 square feet of commercial retail space on the city-owned Main Street lumberyard property last April.

Architectural blueprints presented during discussions last year had revealed a rustic design with an outdoor patio facing the river. Belanger had said that the restaurant could provide repose for travelers along 55 as well as serve as a hotspot for community members.

The initial approval had been met with enthusiasm from residents. This time last year, a post on the official City of Rockford facebook page attracted only comments of approval and excitement for what many considered a “much needed” amenity.

After city approval and the beginning of the building timeline, challenges and difficulties to Allen Max Construction made it unable to stay on schedule, and October came and went without the expected grand opening.

Belanger continued to update the City on the project, and after a recent city council workshop staff was directed to draft a new purchase agreement based on the conversation. The agreement included new timelines and payment parameters.

Per the new terms, the City needs to be paid escrow and earnest money and provided a signed agreement by May 31. Pending these signatures and payments, the groundbreaking will take place by Monday, July 31, of this year and be completed by June 1, 2018.

The council approved the new purchase agreement, and it now falls to Belanger and his company to either sign or officially opt out of the project.

“The indication right now is that this is his [Belanger’s] primary focus and he’s spending a lot of time on it,” City Administrator Dan Madsen said, adding that he plans to meet with him over the coming weeks with a letter of support from the City. “So, things are moving.”

Property tax assessment

In other news, the Local Board of Appeals and Equalization heard the results of the 2017 assessment from both Wright and Hennepin counties.

On the Wright County side, the city has seen a 6.74% increase of total city residential value. This skews higher than reported increases in St. Michael (5.09%), Delano (4.81%), Rockford Township (4.91%), and Franklin Township (4.64%), but lower than increases in Otsego (6.83%), Hanover (7.44%), Buffalo (7.68%) and Albertville (9.56%).

On the Hennepin side, the overall value increased 3.64% for all property types.

There were no residential sales in the Hennepin County portion of Rockford, but there were 22 qualified sales and 13 pending sales in Rockford’s Wright County portion. On average, homes stayed on the market for 66 days.

There was one resident on the Wright County side who had appealed the value of his home; Wright County had issues getting in contact with him and he was not present at the meeting to be heard before the Board.

The Board of Appeals voted to not accept any further appeals, and to address the single outstanding appeal (if the homeowner still wants to pursue it) at the next meeting.

The council also:

AWARDED resident Elizabeth Graunke the 2016 Volunteer of the Year plaque for her work with the Chamber, Rocktoberfest, River Days and other activities;

APPROVED a new Verizon Cellular Lease Agreement, for the use of space on the Linden Street Water Tower for a cellular tower.