Developers renovate downtown Rockford buildings into apartments

The future of living in Rockford’s downtown looks a little more upbeat.

The National Association of Realtors says more millenials, 77% of 17-35 year olds look to live in the “urban core”.

According to a couple Rockford area developers, those trends prove true here as well.

“We get multiple calls a day for the loft units,” said Eric Sallinger, Project Manager for Urban Equities Properties.

“There’s much more of a demand than there is a supply and we’ve got waiting lists of people that would like to live downtown,” said Gary Anderson of Gary W. Anderson Architects.

In addition to demand, there’s a tax incentive that has developers chomping at the bit to make living in downtown Rockford a lifestyle.

“It’s expensive to remodel these existing buildings,” said Rockford Area Realtors CEO Steve Bois.

The Illinois Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program assists with 25% of a projects qualified expenditures. Couple that with federal tax credits, Urban Equities will get help with 45% of it’s renovations.

“It’s what makes it doable,” said Sallinger.

One walk through 330 East State, you can see why the absence of the tax credits might make developers shy away.

Instead, Urban Equities properties will take the building, create eight new living spaces and open the street level to restaurants or cafes already showing interest.

“We’ve got one of our existing tenants that is going into the corner space here, we’ve got a couple of restaurants interested, possible a scooter boutique,” said Sallinger.

Just across the river, the task is a little taller, literally. The Rockford Trust Building is 11 stories. By the end of 2014, architect Gary Anderson says it’ll be filled with 60 new, one and two bedroom apartments with the main level reserved for retail.

“Hope to have some rooftop deck areas for people and we have some balconies on the south side for some of the units as well,” said Anderson.

It’s the type of living that draws young professionals like John Manis to downtown. He’s been on Madison Street for four years now. For him, proximity to downtown life is important.

“It’s definitely grown over the last four years. It gets a lot more traffic down here, a lot more excitement than when I first moved in,” said Manis.

The view’s not bad either.

“My favorite part about it is probably the rooftop deck, I get a lot of use out of that.”

The Illinois Historical Preservation Tax Credit is good through 2016. Urban Equities already has plans in the works to renovate more downtown buildings into living spaces.