Rockford closes meeting to discuss apartment proposal

Initially listed on the agenda as an item for new business, the possible sale of city-owned land for workforce housing was changed to closed session discussion.

This marks the second closed session in regards to a purchase and sale agreement with Sand Companies.

Sand Companies is interested in purchasing land near the Rockford City Center Mall to develop 42 units of workforce housing. The company and the Rockford City Council had previously discussed the idea on April 25 and May 9. At the May 9 workshop, Sand Co. representatives had detailed their proposed plan and the contribution that would be needed from the city for the project to move forward.

At the first closed session, the council had deliberated on what, if any, contribution would be made to Sand Co. and if they would sell city-owned property for the project. No formal vote was taken as it was for information and discussion only.

Based on an “impression of interest” from the council, city staff had drafted a package for the May 23 meeting that, if approved, would stand as formal support of the project. It included the acquisition of a property abutting city-owned parcels (all of which would be required to build) and a waiver of park dedication fees and some water and sewer access charges.

With Rockford’s contribution set, Sand Co. would have to apply for state and federal funding and tax credit awards and would know whether they could move forward with the project by October. If things were positive in October, the city would extend the TIF District to capture the increment created by the construction to offset current city bond dent. If not, no contributions will be made and the project would likely die.

Representative Megan Sand was also present with an updated City Letter of Support for the council’s review, and to answer lingering questions.

It was decided to go to closed session again instead of review the package, because “we are still not completely linear on some of the terms,” City Administrator Dan Madsen said.

“There are some discrepancies we have that we need to clean up,” he continued. “And we need to have a second conversation about whether or not we could get these timelines properly aligned to support execution of the purchase agreements.”

Sand Companies had also approached the City of Hanover on a similar project, but was rejected at Hanover’s last city council meeting. Hanover Mayor Chris Kauffman had noted Rockford’s interest in Sand Companies, but mentioned he preferred single-family homes, “not apartments.”

If there is interest among the Rockford City Council to proceed, it will be introduced as new business at the next meeting.