2016: New Places, New Spaces

7th Street, looking north.  Midtown Lofts is pictured at left.

7th Street, looking north.  Midtown Lofts is pictured at left.

2016 begins today, and with it comes a spirit of optimism, the gift of foresight, and the feeling of anticipation for good things to come.  As we gear up for a productive year ahead, there are a couple of important development projects that we are looking forward to this year: The Trust Building, and Midtown Lofts.  

Rockford Trust Building, looking west.  The solarium entrance was recently removed, and construction has turned inwards during the Winter.

Rockford Trust Building, looking west.  The solarium entrance was recently removed, and construction has turned inwards during the Winter.

Construction is underway at the Rockford Trust Building, located on the corner of West State and Wyman Street.  The project will include 62 market-rate apartments ranging from 800-1200 square feet, and presumedly a retail/commercial mix on the ground floor (no word on that yet).  It’s a beautiful, historic property: Designed by architect Daniel Burnham in 1907 (designer of the Flatiron Building in NYC, among many other things), and originally occupied by the Rockford Bank & Trust Company, the building is one of our tallest properties downtown at 11 stories. With state historic tax credits expiring at the end of 2016 (and likely not coming back), there’s a good chance we’ll see this project completed later this year.

Midtown Lofts, an Urban Equity Properties development. Pictured Summer 2015. Construction has begun since.

Midtown Lofts, an Urban Equity Properties development. Pictured Summer 2015. Construction has begun since.

Another project of note is the Midtown Lofts, 403-411 7th Street.   Urban Equity Properties, the owner of the buildings, plans on developing 14 loft apartments, 7 retail spaces, and parking/garage spaces as well.  According to Northwest Quarterly’s recent article, ‘Midtown Rising’, the lofts will feature exposed beams, brick, hardwood floors and more, with rents for less than $1,000/month.  According to the UEP website, completion is expected in Fall of this year.

There’s a lot going on in Midtown right now.  Midwest Dental recently occupied the old Commercial Mortgage & Finance building; Northwest Quarterly is developing the former Nicholson Gifts building (tastefully, by the way); Morning Glory Restaurant recently moved up the street into a building that the owner purchased; and Urban Equity Properties has a few other properties on 7th that we can look forward to in the future.  Adding to this is the City’s recent streetscape investment, which features decorative lighting, curb bump-outs, stoplight removal and stop sign installation, and much more. 

Two projects, two investments, offering dozens of people the chance to call Rockford’s urban core home.  62 new apartments downtown, 14 new lofts in Midtown.  That means at least 76 new residents who can make our city’s places more viable, comfortable, and convivial.   76 more pairs of feet walking to and from places.  76 more appetites.  76 more places to decorate…and, in turn, more retail space activated to meet their needs.   

More people and more programming make for a more livable city.  To be sure, we need multiple iterations of small-scale, mixed-use development throughout our City.  But these two projects–the Trust Building, and Midtown Lofts–are not insignificant.  They offer people a chance to become residents, place-makers…and that’s something to be optimistic about.