Media & News

Wisconsin-based Developer Gorman & Company Recognized as one of the Top Ten Affordable Housing Developers in the Nation

Published on Urban Milwaukee on April 26, 2017

Madison, WI—April 25, 2017— Affordable Housing Finance (AHF) has named Wisconsin –based Gorman & Company (Gorman) as one of the top ten affordable housing developers in the nation in the only listing of its kind, AHF 50. AHF surveyed over 110 companies regionally and nationally to produce the annual report on the nation’s top 50 developers which publishes the number of affordable housing construction starts and completions by developers included on the AHF list and provides a picture of emerging industry trends. Gorman rose to number 10 on the AHF 50 listing from number 16 in 2015, breaking ground on nine innovative developments throughout the country that are comprised of 776 affordable apartment homes.

Gorman CEO and founder, Gary Gorman, who has stewarded his company’s growth –from its launch with a modest 24-unit project in small-town Wisconsin to successfully completing over 5000 affordable apartment homes nationwide and elevated the face of public housing by partnering with communities and the public sector remarked:

“We have been developing affordable housing for over thirty years. It is very gratifying to receive this recognition.”

Gorman is also featured as the cover story in AHF’s April/May edition. Here is the link.

In the profile of Gorman by Donna Kimura, deputy editor of AHF, Jack Manning, president and CEO of Boston Capitol, a long-term financing partner on 14 of Gorman’s leading edge projects, appraised Gorman with a snapshot observation of its creative and collaborative development approach:

“…Gorman is the type of company that loves innovation.”

Gorman is planning to break ground on 12 new projects around the country this year and projects completion of over 1000 additional affordable housing units. The company is also looking to parlay its strong foundation of partnerships with public housing authorities and to expand its portfolio of Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) projects.

Recently, Gorman completed Madison Heights (the first RAD project ever completed in Arizona) in partnership with Housing Authority of Maricopa County, (HAMC), transforming a severely dilapidated post-World War II-era public housing project in Avondale, AZ into a pioneering and sustainable 143-unit community that also set aside 30 apartments to provide permanent homes and a social incubator for “chronically homeless” residents.

In Rockford, IL Gorman is partnering with the Rockford Housing Authority (RHA) on a RAD initiative to replace and revision 1100 existing units of public housing at scattered sites, incorporating fresh architectural solutions, social and educational support and a strong homeowner component to create a new blueprint for affordable housing. Replacement units are owned in partnership between Gorman and Bridge Rockford Alliance, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of the RHA. The Grove at Keith Creek, a 49 –unit multi-family residential community (with 22 units targeted for home ownership) is slated for completion this summer and is the second phase of that initiative.

To advance the company’s goals for the future and to usher in the next phase of growth, Gorman has also announced a succession plan effective January 1,2018. Under the new leadership structure, Gorman founder and CEO, Gary Gorman will become chairman of the Gorman’s Board of Directors and continue active involvement in all significant decisions for the firm. Brian Swanton, currently Gorman’s Arizona & Southwestern States Market President will take the reigns as CEO. Current COO, Tom Capp, was joins Gorman’s Board of Directors as vice-chairman. Mr. Capp will also serve as lead advisor on strategic planning and growth for the firm identifying new market opportunities that fit the critical needs of communities.

About Gorman & Company, Inc.

Gorman & Company is nationally recognized for revitalizing communities and urban urban neighborhoods through innovative public-private partnerships. As a trusted partner and respected industry leader since 1984, Gorman specializes in downtown renewal, the preservation of affordable housing, workforce housing and the adaptive reuse of significant historic landmarks with offices in Milwaukee, Chicago, IL; Denver, CO; Miami,FL and Phoenix, AZ.The company maintains in-house design, construction, and development divisions that have successfully completed over $900 million new construction and major renovations since its founding 33 years ago. Its affiliated property management firm manages over 5,000 units around the country.

Residential Component of $60M Wis. Mixed-Use Opens

By Jeffrey Steele of Multi-Housing News

Madison, Wis.—Carbon at Union Corners, a mixed-use community including a 90-residence apartment community with a substantial affordable housing component, has broken ground in Madison, Wis.

union_corners

A long-vacant industrial site once occupied by Ray-O-Vac Corp. is now the site for Gorman & Co.’s new development.

Carbon is the result of a public-private partnership between the city of Madison, Dane County and the state of Wisconsin. It is the second phase and first residential phase of Gorman & Company’s $60 million multi-stage transformation of a long-vacant industrial site once occupied by Ray-O-Vac Corporation. “Union Corners is a master development that we embarked on three years ago,” Gorman & Company’s Milwaukee-based president of the Wisconsin market Ted Matkom told MHN.

“It was started through an RFP process. Ray-O-Vac abandoned the site decades ago, and the city of Madison took title to the big six-acre site and cleaned the site through remediation grants to the point where it was developable. It’s right on a main thoroughfare in Madison called East Washington Avenue, and surrounded by historic neighborhoods that are extremely stable but more moderate income.”

Six neighborhoods touch Union Corners, “and we talked with all of them,” Matkom continued. “The priorities were a place to live, work and play. After that, they identified their top desires as health care, a supermarket, and affordable housing. They really emphasized the need for a development that didn’t gentrify their neighborhood. They wanted something that blended into the neighborhood. We got them the UW Health Clinic, Fresh Thyme grocery and this Carbon development, with a large mix of housing ranging from market rate to apartments earmarked for 30 percent of AMI.”

The construction cost is estimated at $16 million. Completion is slated for June 2017.

Carbon at Union Corners features two four-story buildings linked by courtyard plaza. In addition to the 90 apartment homes, there will be 18,000 square feet of ground-floor specialty retail space and 92 underground parking spaces for residents. Eighty-five percent (or 76) of the one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments will be designated as “affordable” and targeted to families earning 30, 50 or 60 percent of Dane County’s median income, which is $82,600 for a family of four.

Four units will be market rate. Monthly rental rates depend on annual household income, and will range from $380 to $940 for a one-, $455 to $1,245 for a two- and $920 to $1,460 for a three-bedroom unit.

Apartments will feature walk-in closets, in-unit washer-dryers, large kitchens and Magic-Pak self-contained HVAC systems. Amenities include a fitness center with cardio equipment, treadmills, weights and stationary bikes.

When considering acquiring the site, Gorman & Company had to weigh its positives and negatives, Matkom said. “The plus was it is a vacant site remediated by the city of Madison, and 100 percent ready for development,” he reported. “The minus was the site was incorporated in a highly urban area touching six neighborhoods. The time we spent in community meetings was extremely long. There were a lot of stakeholders who had to be appeased to ensure the development was a fit for the community.”

One of the points of contention was surface parking. Neighborhood residents didn’t want a sea of asphalt encircling the development. “They wanted underground parking,” Matkom said. “So we had to put in all underground parking, and from a cost perspective, it was challenging to incorporate that into the project.”

A nod to the site’s history will be woven into Carbon. Bricks from the long-demolished Ray-O-Vac factory will be creatively repurposed, and the vintage French Battery stone signs will be featured in common areas of Union Corners.

Gorman & Co. founder looks to future by naming new CEO

Written by Larry Avila of the Wisconsin State Journal

Gary_Gorman

OREGON — Gary Gorman recognized that for the development company bearing his name to continue without him someday, he needed a leadership transition plan to ensure its future.

In mid-March Gorman & Co., which he built from a one-man operation from a basement office in summer 1984 to a company with about 250 employees and operations in five states, announced that plan. Gorman will transition the daily management of the company to Brian Swanton, the Arizona market president who will take over as CEO on Jan. 1. Gorman will still be involved with the business as chairman of its board.

Gorman, who has not determined a retirement date, said announcing a leadership succession plan now was the responsible thing to do.

“I’ll still be very involved in the company, but I’ll be less involved in the day-to-day side of things starting Jan. 1,” said Gorman, 61. “I don’t consider this retiring at all, but when you grow a business to a certain level, and when (the owner) gets over 60 years old, people do start to ask, ‘What’s next?’

“I wanted to get ahead of that question. I wanted to have input on (the future of the business) as opposed to someone else making that decision somewhere down the line.”

In the beginning

Gorman & Co. specializes in housing developments from affordable housing to upscale condominiums, and does more than $100 million in business annually. It employs about 250 people and has operations in Milwaukee, Phoenix, Chicago, Miami and Denver.

Corporate_Office

Gorman & Co. also has been very active in Madison.

The company’s recent projects include the Union Corners development continuing to rise at East Washington Avenue, Milwaukee and Winnebago streets. The company also was involved in converting space at the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, a former seminary and home to the diocesan headquarters, to apartments now referred to as Holy Name Heights.

Before he got into housing development, Gorman practiced law for about four years.

“The basement office where I started my business was torn down long ago,” he said. “When I look back on it, I never expected the company to grow to the size it is today.”

Tom Capp, the current chief operating officer who will become vice chairman of the board on Jan. 1, joined Gorman about 22 years ago and led the company’s expansion outside Wisconsin, most recently to Illinois.

“We have deep roots in Wisconsin and we’ll always be a Wisconsin-based company,” Gorman said.

He said Swanton, who has grown Gorman & Co.’s business in Arizona for the past eight years, is ready for a larger role.

Gorman said establishing the future leader of the company well before his retirement also ensures to future investors the firm will be around to see projects through and it also helps in the recruitment of new employees as it looks to expand into new markets.

hallway

“Yes, I want to ensure the company continues after I’m gone, but what it’s really about when a company actively is recruiting young people that have options and they see the CEO of our company is a guy in his 60s, they may not consider us,” Gorman said.

Gorman said moving the company forward will take new thinking.

“It took a certain skill set to grow the company from zero to $100 million,” he said. “To get to that next level, it will take someone who may be better at systems and monitoring metrics, and I think Brian has the skills to continue growing the business.”

The future

Implementing a transition plan while an owner still will be involved in the business is a sound strategy, said Sherry Herwig, director of the Family Business Center at UW-Madison.

“It lets employees know that during the transition there will be some consistency and continuity,” she said. “When the new leader takes over, the employees can take comfort knowing the person who had been leading the company all along, will be there and be part of the decision-making process.”

architets

Gorman said his company’s success has been built through recruiting good people who could develop markets familiar to them.

“What I hope to see is the company experience steady but not rapid growth because companies that are the highest risk are start-ups and those that grow too rapidly,” he said. “In terms of the transition and working with Brian, I plan to work with him so he understands what he’ll have to do to be the CEO versus just being a market president.”

Gorman said once the company’s daily management is transitioned to Swanton, he will focus on special projects including finding ways to approach building projects more cost-effectively.

“I’m feeling good and I’m healthy,” Gorman said. “I’m still really interested in this business and frankly, I don’t want to retire.”

How Milwaukee’s Northside Housing Initiative Is Keeping the Neighborhood Affordable

 

How do you revitalize a neighborhood that’s faced years of vacancy and disinvestment without displacing the people who call it home? It’s a problem that Milwaukee’s Northside Housing Initiative has been tackling for the last eight years.

1914 home restorationA 1914 home was restored in 2013.

The Northside Housing Initiative (NHI), a project of national developer Gorman & Company, is in the business of restoring tax foreclosed houses. Formerly a booming neighborhood for industrial workers, the north side has seen high rates of vacancy in recent years, following the national housing crisis and the Great Recession. As part of the still-ongoing initiative, the city of Milwaukee acquires foreclosed houses for $1 and donates them to the NHI, which carefully refurbishes them over the course of about six months. Not all of the houses are historic, but roughly 20 percent date from 1910 to 1925, and their styles range from bungalows to Queen Anne to Victorian Revival.

“You do find some that are really in pretty good shape, they still have some pretty good bones to them,” says Marc Ott, lead architect for the Wisconsin market at Gorman, of the historic homes refurbished as part of the initiative. “And then of course you find some that are in the far, complete opposite end, really not habitable at all.”

He says that making sure that the heating and cooling, plumbing, and electrical systems are safe and up to code takes top priority in the rehab projects. Gorman & Company has completed eight phases of the initiative thus far, with a ninth slated for the spring of 2017. They’ve refurbished over 300 structures, including single-family homes and duplexes, to date, taking advantage of low-income tax credits to help finance the work.

Ott says that keeping the historic fabric of the neighborhood intact is also something that the NHI strives for. “We do take time and research the whole block and try to make sure it [the house] fits in and the color scheme is appropriate and etcetera,” he says.

One of the project’s essential components is a workforce development program, in partnership with the Northcott Neighborhood House, a local nonprofit that works with low-income or out-of-work community members. Northcott keeps a list of re-entry candidates who have committed felonies and are trying to get back on their feet post-incarceration, and works with NHI to train interested individuals in the areas of carpentry, electrical, HVAC, or plumbing, as well as providing them with a core curriculum at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Ted Matkom, Wisconsin Market President at Gorman & Company, explains that at the end of their training, people in the program have an opportunity to pursue an apprenticeship in their field of choice.

1910 home before

A duplex built in 1910 gets restored in 2012.

1910 home after

“Our goal is to have them pass the competency test to get into an apprenticeship in those trades,” he says. “Once they pass that, with our credit from the training program, they can get an apprenticeship job with a local union.”

The north side of Milwaukee has seen a shift in recent years due to the new Century City project, a formerly vacant A.O. Smith car parts factory that the city is in the process of transforming into an office park, at an estimated cost of around $40 million. While the new development should be economically beneficial for the area in theory, the city doubled down on its commitment to keeping longtime residents from being pushed out of the neighborhood by rising housing costs by partnering with the Northside Housing Initiative to rehab homes in direct proximity to Century City. It’s part of a larger plan to keep the North Side affordable for those whose families, in some cases, have called it home for generations.

“You can really see that this was probably the quintessential working neighborhood back in the ‘20s and ‘30s and ‘40s, with all the industry that was happening in Milwaukee,” Ott says. “Unfortunately, through the years and economics and whatnot, they’ve just transitioned, and people weren’t able to keep them up.”

For residents like Willie Bounds, who has called Milwaukee home his whole life, the house he’s renting through the Northside Housing Initiative provides more than enough room for him and his daughter. “I’ve never had a house with a basement before,” he says, laughing. “I really love the extra space.” He pays $950 a month for a four-bedroom, four-bathroom house.

“It really gives a lot of pride to the neighborhood,” Ott says of the project’s benefits. “It’s one thing to give someone housing. If you can give someone good quality housing that they’re proud to bring people back to—it’s been very fulfilling to see, as we work through these nine phases, how we evolve, how the community’s kind of taken hold of it, been proud of it.”

FREDERICK LOFTS REPRESENTS “TIPPING POINT” FOR CITY

At the dedication of 100-unit market-rate apartment building at the former Pabst Brewery, mayor hopeful for continued growth of downtown housing.

By Michael Horne, Urban Milwaukee, August 13th, 2015

MILWAUKEE - There was a time that when you referred to a city’s “Tipping Point,” you were talking about a catalytic event that led to a community’s decline. Today, the phrase, as applied to the City of Milwaukee, has a different connotation, says Mayor Tom Barrett.

“Milwaukee is at a tipping point,” he told a group of 50 people gathered Wednesday at the dedication of the Frederick Lofts, 840 W. Juneau Ave. “Not a negative tipping point, but a positive tipping point.”

The 100-unit apartment building was developed by Gorman & Company, Inc. at the east end of the former Pabst Brewery.

Prior to the purchase of the long-vacant brewery site by the Zilber Group, “there was no reason to come here,” the mayor said. In fact, the place was so desolate that “even the bad guys wouldn’t come here,” he added.

But today, “what is happening literally before our eyes are young people and the young at heart coming downtown. It’s a national phenomenon,” the mayor said. “Downtown is 3.6% of the landmass and 18% of the tax base” of the city, he said.

As if on cue, the sidewalks outside began to fill with workers from downtown office buildings as they left work, heading to their homes, some in The Brewery neighborhood itself. Gorman & Company developed the adjacent Blue Ribbon Lofts apartment building out of the former Pabst Keg House. In addition, Gorman developed the Brewhouse Inn & Suites one block west. The new development is immediately south of the Brewery Point Apartments, a senior living community.

Ald. Bob Bauman, whose 4th district represents that 18% of the city’s tax base, and is the focus of its tipping point, joked that “groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings are getting routine.”

Ted Matkom, the Wisconsin Market President for Gorman, said the site “was the poster child for blight in Milwaukee.” He recounted the failed attempt to turn the area into an entertainment district that would have required the demolition of many buildings. Such entertainment districts did not survive the great recession, he said. After that effort failed, Joe Zilber declared that the Pabst site “was going to be my legacy.”

Things were tough at first, Matkom said. Some 30 restaurateurs turned down a chance to open what is now Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub at the Brewhouse Inn & Suites, including what he called “all the big players.” Today, Jackson’s, run by Mark Zierath, who was in the audience (and who catered the event) “is killing it!” Matkom said. The Blue Ribbon Lofts, dating to 2008, are “100% occupied,” he said. The 90-room hotel has some of the top rates in the city,” and hopes are high for the Frederick Lofts.

As Bauman noted, the location is a success despite being in sight of the County Jail and a state secure detention facility.

John Kersey, the Zilber Group Vice President said “We would not have imagined market-rate housing when we started this thing.”

Today, market rate at the Frederick Lofts starts at $1,350 for studios and $1,790 for a two bedroom unit.

Three models were on display, and I toured them with Gary Gorman, the president of the firm that developed and owns the property. This is 100% new construction, with high-end features like granite countertops and floor-to-ceiling windows. A live-work unit of 696 square feet has a sliding partition that separates the work unit, accessible from the street, from the live unit. For those eager go-getters who like to bound out of the bedroom and straight into the kitchen for a hearty breakfast, there is no door between the two rooms to slow things down.

Gorman noted the floors of the units, which are uniform throughout, and consist of a wood-grain pattern and texture. The material is described in the sales material as “luxury hard surface plank in natural wood,” but it is a vinyl type product. Gorman says from experience, he has to replace carpets every three years, and this material should be more durable. I would rather it express its inner vinylness rather than masquerade as wood, and I found the texture to be unnecessary.

Among the attendees was Jim Haertel, who owns Best Place across the street. He now has 35 employees. His wife Nancy says their facility is nearly completely booked for 2016, including for the wedding of Urban Milwaukee CEO Jeramey Jannene and Alison Peterson and is now taking reservations for 2017. One of the couple’s favorite weddings of 2015 was that of Ald. Nik Kovac and Grace Fuhr in July, where guests arrived by bicycle. Dan McCarthy, who was instrumental in the development of the project, (and was on the wrong side of the Pabst City plan) was there as was banker Jon Mulcahy. Also in attendance was Joy Smith, a resident of the Blue Ribbon Lofts who writes a neighborhood newsletter.

The building has a nice rooftop deck with a kitchenette, and a number of people were gathered there during the event. The building has a partial green roof of sedum that looks in fine shape for a recent installation. The bioswales outside seem to have done their work during recent heavy downpours, as evidenced by the line of silt seen on some of the plants there.

The final word on the tipping point came from the mayor, who said “my wife wants to move downtown!” Barrett says that may happen soon, once the kids are out of the house.

Gorman buys Amerock building in downtown Rockford

By Brian Leaf, Rockford Register Star, May 28, 2015

ROCKFORD — Gorman & Co. has completed its purchase of the Amerock building from the city of Rockford.

Under a contract approved by the Rockford City Council, Gorman paid $250,000 for the building.

The company said pre-demolition work will start within a week on the 13-story abandoned factory that Gorman intends to turn into a 160-suite hotel and conference center. It will also feature restaurants, retail space, a swimming pool, business center and a top floor cocktail lounge. Cost of the project is $67 million.

Gary Gorman, CEO of the development company that specializes in historic buildings and revitalizing urban neighborhoods, said ownership was a big step toward completion of the project.

Gorman hopes to raise about $25 million for the project from Chinese investors through an immigration program, EB-5, that provides foreigners a green card if they invest $500,000 in a project that creates at least 10 jobs. Gorman said this month that advisers in China told the company that it would be easier to recruit investors if Gorman owned the building.

The company hopes to have its financing package complete later this summer. The historic renovation of the 104-year-old building, built by William Ziock Jr. for his textile businesses, is expected to start in September.

Our View: Downtown Rockford pieces fitting together nicely

By The Editorial Board Rockford Register Star

Posted May 19, 2015 at 2:03 PM

Monday night’s Rockford City Council vote amending the development agreement with Gorman & Co. may seem like an incremental step toward downtown revival, but don’t underestimate its importance.

Aldermen not only showed confidence in the Gorman project, a $67 million hotel and conference center at the former Amerock/Ziock building, but their 11-1 vote sent a signal to other developers that they are willing to work in the best interests of all parties. Rockford is open for business.

Gary Gorman, CEO of the company that bears his name, had asked to have an option to sell Amerock/Ziock back to the city for the $250,000 he paid for it. That made aldermen nervous that he would back out. So, the deal changed. Now, Gorman will sell the building back to the city for $1 if the project is scrapped.

The worst-case scenario would be that the city resumes ownership of a partially cleaned-up Amerock/Ziock with $250,000 in its coffers.

That’s unlikely, and Gorman sounded confident Monday when he said: “This project is going to happen.”

Gorman is expected to close on the building Wednesday and with that move he will have spent more than $1 million on the project. That’s a huge commitment and doesn’t account for staff time that’s gone into the development.

The buzz about downtown Rockford has never been greater. Gorman is the biggest piece of the revival puzzle, but there are plenty of pieces in place with undoubtedly more to come.

Work on the downtown sports complex, another huge puzzle piece, is progressing well, and the Rockford City Market pavilion looks very good as the market prepares to open its sixth season Friday.

The market has been a catalyst for downtown development. It has shown that people will come to downtown Rockford regularly if you give them a good reason. The market set a record for attendance in 2014 with 75,500 visitors, an amazing number when you consider there were quite a few Fridays with unpleasant weather last year.

This year the pavilion will protect market visitors from the elements, so we expect a new record.

Several small-business owners started at the market and have opened stores downtown.There still are plenty of empty storefronts downtown for aspiring entrepreneurs. As projects such as Gorman’s and the sports complex take shape, those empty spaces will become more desirable.

We can’t remember a time when so many reputable developers were interested in the center of the city. Urban Equity Properties, led by Justin Fern, plans a $10 million development in the 50,000-square-foot Hanley building and is working on other downtown properties.

Morgan Management wants to turn the Rockford Trust Building into 62 downtown apartments, with space for retail and service businesses on the ground floor. The price is nearly $13 million.

Joseph James Partners, led by SupplyCore CEO Peter Provenzano, and Frantz Community Investors of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, also are looking for downtown opportunities.

You can feel the momentum build from our offices here in the downtown News Tower. There has been significant private investment in an area that had seen mostly public dollars spent on it.Downtown Rockford finally appears ready to live up to its potential. Years from now, we will be able to look back at Monday night’s vote as a vital step in the process.

Amerock Project Closer to Being Finalized

By Phillip Reed, MyState.com, May 19, 2015

Rockford-The vacant dilapidated Amerock building sits with broken windows in downtown Rockford waiting on aldermen and developer Gary Gorman  to reach an agreement on a purchase of the property to turn it into a hotel. 

Gorman says “(The Amerock) project is going to happen. We have to explore the risk, we have to explore the ‘what if’ scenarios.” 

That’s why Gorman asked for some amendments to the proposed deal with Rockford. The developer wants more then 500,000 dollars waived in fees for permits and utilities, in exchange for hiring local contractors. Aldermen voted yes on that proposal during Monday night’s city council. 

Gorman says “We will do that. That’s part of the trade off, for the waiver of the fees. But the bigger point in the waiver of the fees is we want to put money in the quality of the hotel.” 

Gorman also wanted an option to sell the Amerock back to Rockford for 250,000 dollars. Aldermen were not in favor of that, saying that would be unfair to taxpayers. They changed the amendment to make any sale back to the city cost one dollar. Gorman did not have any objections to the decision. 

He says “Worse case scenario for the city of Rockford, they keep my 250,000 dollars, they will have the building back that they own now, and it will at least be partially remediated because we’re going to start work on it with the month of June.” 

Gorman says he’s confident in the city of Rockford and the Amerock project. He adds, “On 31 years (my company has) never started a project and not completed it, so that’s just not gonna happen.”

Gary Gorman says he’s committed to hotel project in downtown Rockford

By Brian Leaf Rockford Register Star

Posted May 17, 2015 at 12:00 PM Updated May 17, 2015 at 8:45 PM

ROCKFORD — Gary Gorman asked for an audit on how much his company has invested into the vacant, asbestos-filled Amerock/Ziock building that he wants to turn into a $67 million Embassy Suites hotel and conference center.

The accountant’s report: $760,418.16, said Gorman, CEO of the Wisconsin-based company that bears his name. That’s what he’ll lose if the project dies.

That investment, which doesn’t include $75,000 to apply for a hotel franchise and staff time put into the project since 2012, will surpass $1 million Wednesday if, as expected, Gorman buys the property from the city of Rockford for $250,000.

“The concern I’ve heard is that Gorman is not committed to this,” he said. “I just smile when I hear this.”

But worried frowns and questions about Gorman’s commitment rose last week when aldermen considered changes to the company’s development plan. Those changes include a city waiver of $550,000 in fees for permits and utilities, a $3 million federal loan backed by the city and an option to sell the building back to the city for $250,000.

The City Council is expected to consider the changes Monday.Aldermen have questioned whether the changes to Gorman’s development plan are a sign that the deal, which relies on $25 million from Chinese investors, is “imploding,” as Ald. Frank Beach, R-10, put it.

Hardly, said Gorman, who has 30 years of putting together development deals and says they are prone to challenges and change.

“The real key in getting a project done is persistence, pounding away at it until it comes together,” he said. “And I’m betting an awful lot that (Amerock) will.”

So are taxpayers.

The Amerock deal has many parts. It relies on $16 million in city infrastructure investments; development of the $24 million Ingersoll indoor sports center; state and federal historic tax credits; EB-5, an immigration program that gives foreigners a green card for investing $500,000 in job-creating projects; a bridge loan for construction; approval of a hotel brand; and tight construction deadlines.

“This is a lot more complex than the average redevelopment deal that we have worked on,” said Mayor Larry Morrissey, who expects the amendments to be approved Monday.

Gorman Illinois Market President André Blakley met with aldermen last week to address their concerns and questions about the hotel project.

One question centered on why Gorman needs an option for the city to buy back the Amerock building for $250,000. The answer is EB-5, which Gorman hopes will help it raise $25 million from investors in China.

Gorman said he hadn’t anticipated buying the building until later this year, when what developers call the “financial stack” is in place: all of the financial elements — such as equity, loans, tax credits and outside investments — needed to finish a project

Our View: Give Gorman the tools he needs to make downtown Rockford hotel project work

By The Editorial Board Rockford Register Star, May 17, 2015

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.