There seems to be some angst among Rockford aldermen about the future of “The Cinderella Project.” We understand their concerns but are confident that downtown will have a hotel by the end of next year.
Aldermen will be asked Monday night to approve amendments to the development agreement with Gorman & Company, which plans a $67 million downtown hotel and conference center in the former Amerock/Ziock building. We urge aldermen to do so.
“So we’re at the dance, and the clock’s getting close to midnight. We want to make sure Cinderella keeps her dress on,” Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey said last Monday at the Planning & Development Committee meeting.
Hence our reference to “The Cinderella Project,” which seems appropriate for a building that we expect will be a rags-to-riches story when completed.
The change that seems to make aldermen most nervous is Gorman’s request to have an option to sell Amerock/Ziock back to the city for the $250,000 Gorman paid for it.
Good businessmen hedge their bets, and Gary Gorman, CEO of the company that bears his name, is a good businessman. Gorman has invested more than $760,000 in the project, so the option request should not be seen as a warning that he’s getting cold feet. In a worst-case scenario, he’d like to get some of his investment back.
Even if that happened, which we think unlikely, the city would be better off than before Gorman came on the scene.
Gorman plans to close on the building May 20 and as soon as the company takes ownership, remedial work — such as asbestos removal and demolition — will begin. If things didn’t work out, the building would be in better shape for the city if it had to buy the property back Aug. 1 and would be more enticing to the next developer.
Gorman also wants the city to waive $500,000 in permit fees in exchange for his buying local furniture, art and fixtures for the building and making “the attempt to utilize local contractors, tradesman, makers and artists” during construction.
If there were no project, there would be no fees, so this also is a reasonable request.
Gorman wants a 300-vehicle parking lot on the site of the former Tapco building, south of Amerock, instead of on Green Street where it would have been attached to an Amtrak train station.
Downtown could use more parking no matter what the fate of the hotel project.
Aldermen, especially those who have served for many years, have been disappointed more often than not when it comes to downtown development proposals. So have we, and mostly we’ve taken a we’ll-believe-it-when-we-see-it attitude toward downtown development.
However, Gorman is a reputable company that not only has had success in its home state, Wisconsin, but has done good work in the city of Rockford. Gorman’s record should ease aldermen’s concerns.
Also, aldermen should consider that Gorman has increased the size of the project since it was proposed in February 2014. What was a $50 million project is projected to be $67 million. Gorman wants more hotel rooms, going from 150 to 160, and wants to double the convention space.
Those are indications that Gorman is committed to Rockford.
Financing such a huge endeavor is helped by the use of state River Edge Historic Tax Credits and through an EB-5 program, which allows foreigners who invest $500,000 in a project that creates 10 jobs to get green cards. There is huge interest among Chinese investors in the EB-5 program, so odds are good that Gorman will get the money he needs.
Gorman has experience with EB-5. The company raised $15 million for the $19 million historic renovation in Milwaukee of the former Pabst brewery into the Brewhouse Inn & Suites. Gorman wants to raise $25 million for the Rockford project.
We appreciate aldermen doing due diligence on this project and hope they agree with us that the rewards far outweigh the risks in approving the amendments for this vital project.
By Mike Buda, May 14, 2015
ROCKFORD (WIFR) — Major developments surround Rockford’s downtown Amerock building. Wisconsin-based developer Gorman and Company tells 23 News that they have received preliminary confirmation the chain will be the franchise for the Amerock project.
Gorman Illinois Market President, André Blakley, says it’s an exciting time to be in Rockford.
Construction is about to begin on Rockford’s former Amerock building, a structure that’s sat empty for more than two decades.
“We think this will be a significant development,” said Blakley. “Significant in terms of jobs, significant in terms of just reactivating this area and revitalizing the downtown district.”
Amerock is not the only thing being re-used and revitalized. As a part of an agreement with Gorman, Rockford is looking at ways to update neighboring Davis Park by complimenting its surrounding buildings.
“It was designed to be a festival park,” said David Sidney, Rockford’s Comprehensive Planning and Design Manager. “We’re trying to assess whether that still makes sense to go forward and how to make it more active in light of the hotel and conference center and all of the other development happening around it.”
Rockford aldermen still need to approve the updated contract with Gorman. It would provide set deadlines for specific parts of the project to be completed.
“We certainly appreciate the stewardship of our council on these issues in making certain that they test these ideas and make certain that the city’s interests are well taken care of,” said Rockford’s Legal Director Patrick Hayes. “We’re excited to be able to continue to present opportunities for this project to move forward.”
Blakley says by the time the new 160 room Amerock Hilton opens up in early 2017, downtown Rockford should be booming once again.
Gorman says they will be closing on the property in the next week or so and should have their finances approved by September.
Hayes says that on the off-chance that Gorman does not get the money, the developer would have the option to sell the building back.
By Jeramey Jannene, UrbanMilwaukee.com, May 8th, 2015
Not so many years ago, the Pabst Brewing Complex was a ghost town at all hours of the day. The abandoned brewery, which abruptly closed its doors in 1997, served as a highly visible reminder of Milwaukee’s industrial past, looming over Interstate 43 with unused smokestacks and silos. Then in 2006, Joseph Zilber stepped in to buy the complex, rebranding it “The Brewery” and set out to build an entire neighborhood within it.
Gorman & Company has been an important partner of Zilber Ltd in the creation of The Brewery. The Oregon, Wisconsin-based firm has developed the 90-room Brewhouse Inn & Suites hotel in the former brewhouse building and the 95-unit Blue Ribbon Lofts apartments in the former keg house. With many of the historic structures renovated (or in the process of being so), Gorman has now started developing new buildings in the area.
Gorman’s 100-unit Frederick Lofts apartment building is scheduled to open this summer at the northeast corner of W. Juneau Ave. and N. 9th St. The privately-financed project will feature exclusively market-rate apartments. The project is named after Pabst namesake Captain Frederick Pabst. From 1875 to 1892 Pabst lived in a home on the site. Prior to that (and before mechanical refrigeration) tunnels were installed underneath the site to keep beer cold; construction crews found those tunnels on accident last April.
This residential project will take advantage of the recently rebuilt W. Juneau Ave., which was converted from a street designed for beer delivery trucks to a more human-scaled boulevard like Broadway in the Historic Third Ward.
Residents of the project will be able to park in an underground parking facility or in a surface lot behind the L-shaped building.
Frederick Lofts residents might soon find themselves with new neighbors as the new owners of the Milwaukee Bucks are seeking to build their own neighborhood just east of the The Brewery in the Park East corridor.
Written by Mary C. Uhler, Catholic Herald Staff
Friday, May. 01, 2015 — 3:28 PM
It’s time to celebrate both continuity and new beginnings, said Bishop Robert C. Morlino as he presided at a Mass and groundbreaking ceremonies for the redevelopment of the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral Center (BOC) on May 1.
After Holy Name Seminary closed in 1995, the building was renovated as a diocesan center and renamed the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral Center in 1998. The redevelopment of the BOC will maintain diocesan offices, the center’s chapel, and other historic features while adding a vibrant new residential community. Gorman & Company has been engaged by the Diocese of Madison to serve as the developer of the $21 million project and will provide architectural and design services for the redevelopment.
Appropriately, the Mass and groundbreaking ceremonies were held on the feast of St. Joseph the Worker. “We’re doing quite a bit of work here,” said Bishop Morlino, who noted that construction work at the BOC began about a month ago. “We’re doing quite well in the hopes that we will see the fruits of this work in due time.”
Caring about vocations
Following the Mass, Bishop Morlino unveiled and blessed a recently uncovered diocesan coat of arms on the lobby floor, which dates back to when the building was Holy Name Seminary. Bishop Morlino observed that Holy Name Seminary was a sign that the priests and people of the diocese cared about vocations. Unveiling the diocesan crest, he said, “will be a reminder of the wonderful history of the diocese and all the good work of Holy Name Seminary.”
The bishop acknowledged that while times change, “We care every bit as much for vocations today. Through many prayers, we have 33 seminarians and we’re doing well in our fund-raising efforts to support them.”
Friday, May 01, 2015
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New Life for a Madison Icon:
A Celebratory Mass with Bishop Robert C. Morlino marks groundbreaking ceremonies for the redevelopment of the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral Center
Historic renovation preserves on site chapel, maintains Diocesan offices and adds a vibrant new residential community
Madison, WI—May 1, 2015—Bishop Robert C. Morlino celebrated Mass for the feast of St. Joseph the Worker today, marking groundbreaking ceremonies for the redevelopment of the Bishop O’Connor Pastoral Center (BOC). Following the mass, Bishop Morlino, flanked by numerous priests of the diocese, unveiled and blessed a recently uncovered diocesan coat of arms, that embellishes the lobby floor of the BOC and dates from its days as Holy Name Seminary.
The former Holy Name Seminary, a neo-Colonial landmark that welcomed its first students in 1964, has served as the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral Center since the seminary was closed in 1995. The redevelopment plan for the BOC – which preserves its architectural and sacred legacy and ensures strategic stewardship for the 72.6 acre property – was grounded in years of due diligence and study on the part of diocesan councils, consultors, and leadership to determine the best possible outcome for the future of the aging and underutilized former seminary.
Gorman & Company has been engaged by the diocese to serve as the developer of the $21 million project and will provide architectural and design services for the redevelopment. Upon completion of the apartment component of the project in 2016, Gorman & Company will also manage the property. First Business Bank of Madison, WI is providing the financing for the milestone redevelopment.
In anticipation of today’s event, Bishop Morlino expressed his gratitude to all those who are making this project possible, saying “It is a win-win scenario, where the diocese not only retains this historic building, keeping our presence in this most visible sign of the diocese in the community, and preserving the legacy of Holy Name Seminary, but also where new life is breathed onto the campus, which has served the local Church so well. We are so grateful for the excellent cooperation of Gary Gorman and his expert and visionary team.”
To preserve its architectural integrity, the iconic landmark, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, will be renovated as a “certified historic rehabilitation” in compliance with historic preservation guidelines prescribed by the National Park Service. Whenever possible, the BOC’s significant historic and architectural elements will be preserved, refurbished and sensitively integrated into the renovation design.
Key components of the BOC renovation will be incorporating 53 new apartment homes, updating office space for the diocese, Catholic Charities, and affiliated Catholic organizations, including the Catholic Herald and Catholic Radio, and upgrading office and kitchen facilities for Blue Plate Catering. The project will also allow Catholic Charities of Madison to bring more of their agents under one roof.
The on-site Cletus O’Donnell Holy Name Chapel will be maintained and preserved and will continue to offer daily Mass and Eucharistic Adoration during and after the BOC renovation. The chapel interior is noted for its 360-piece mosaic, assembled in Germany, that rises three-stories behind the altar, and for its dramatic stained glass windows that were crafted in a palette of blues and pastels by the renowned Conrad Schmitt Studios.
The new residential community at the BOC, to be known as Holy Name Heights, will be comprised of 53 one and two-bedroom apartment homes that will combine contemporary living with a historic setting for a special sense of place. Units will be appointed with granite kitchen countertops and islands, stainless steel appliances, luxe plank flooring throughout, efficient cooling and heating systems, and a high speed Wi-Fi network. A guest suite will be available to rent by residents for visiting family and friends. Each unit will have an enclosed, heated parking stall and availability for bike storage as well.
Residents will have access to a host of amenities that are unique to the architectural landmark, including two interior courtyards with cloistered, arched walkways and a full size gymnasium-prime for pick-up basketball games. A wine lounge with a fireplace, stylish seating and a covered balcony offering panoramic views of the city and the Capitol, a theater room, a dance movement studio and fitness center are planned as well. The richly landscaped grounds of the BOC also feature 2.5 miles of walking trails for leisurely strolls or quick sprints.
To recognize and celebrate the BOC’s historic and cultural significance, Gorman & Company will create a dedicated space for a “History Lounge” on the lower level of the building below the chapel. In partnership with the diocese, Gorman & Company will curate a display of memorabilia and photographs chronicling the history of Holy Name Seminary. On site office tenants, residents, and visitors will have a chance to view the collection and learn about the BOC’s spiritual legacy in a warm and inviting setting.
Open the Media Advisory attachment below for information on the Groundbreaking for the Redevelopment of the Bishop O’Connor Pastoral Center:
By: Pete Scholz, Channel 12 News, Phoenix, April 23, 2015
An historic Phoenix neighborhood which was slated to be demolished a few years ago is experiencing a renaissance, of sorts. Residents took in the latest plans at a community meeting in the Coffelt Public Housing Development Thursday.
To look at the 38 acres of 1950’s barrack-style housing occupying the southwest corner of 19th Avenue and Buckeye near downtown Phoenix is to get a glimpse of Arizona’s history. And, generations of residents have called the Coffelt-Lamoreaux Public Housing Development home.
“The folks that live at Coffelt take an extreme level of pride for where they live,” Brian Swanton, president of the Arizona Market for Gorman & Company says. “They didn’t want to move and they were loud and clear about that. They wanted to stay.”
Over the past two years a unique, public-private relationship was forged to make sure that was going to happen.
Oscar Perdolmo is a 13-year resident of the neighborhood just southwest of downtown. “I’m excited because I like living here,” he said. “I like my neighbors and the people I live with. It’s very calm.”
Excitement grew when the Housing Authority of Maricopa County and their partners at Gorman & Company were able to win National Historic Registration for the site built back in 1953. The designation, along with additional financing, has resulted in a $44 million makeover about to launch in the coming months.
“It’s basically a gut rehabilitation, as we call it,” Swanton explained. “We’re preserving the exterior facade of the buildings but everything will be brand new inside — the bones of the building.”
Swanton also shared that $90,000 has been budgeted for each of the 301 units to be redone. From the floors to the roofs, upgrades will include cabinetry, appliances, sinks and flooring. Well-worn swamp coolers will also be scrapped for new heating and air conditioning units.
In addition, plans are also in place to temporarily move tenants to unoccupied units during construction, which should add a little more peace of mind to anxious residents.
“They came in my home and took an inventory of all of my equipment; all of my furniture,” Antonio Cabrera, a nine-year resident said. “To make sure that they can move it with no cost for myself once the renovations get under way.”
The project is also adding a new and improved park and community center. And, the developer is hoping to improve air quality in the neighborhood by improving irrigation and planting more trees along connecting streets.
According to Gorman & Company, the Coffelt renovation is scheduled to begin on or around October 1, 2015, and last about 17 months. Interest in the program is growing, as well. Housing Authority of Maricopa County says that the waiting list to move into one of the newly-renovated units stands at 1,000 names.
Please click on link below to read the story from the Catholic Herald dated February 25, 2015:
Click on the link below to read the article on Gorman’s Northside Neighborhoods as published on the Wheda Transform Milwaukee website: