City opts to not accept Hickory Grove proposal from RFP process

“The City of Rochelle has received one proposal to redevelop the Hickory Grove property,” the city statement said. “The city council will not accept the RFP provided at this time. We appreciate the developer's willingness to invest in Rochelle and look forward to issuing a new RFP for the future development of the property in the coming months.”

Statement: City plans to issue a new RFP for property in coming months

ROCHELLE — During executive session on Monday, the Rochelle City Council discussed a proposal that was received for the development of the Hickory Grove property that was received from a request for proposal (RFP) process that the city put out to potential developers. 

A city statement from City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh on Tuesday said the city would not accept the proposal at this time. 

“The City of Rochelle has received one proposal to redevelop the Hickory Grove property,” the city statement said. “The city council will not accept the RFP provided at this time. We appreciate the developer's willingness to invest in Rochelle and look forward to issuing a new RFP for the future development of the property in the coming months.”

Fiegenschuh and the city declined to provide more details on what sort of development the proposal involved. 

The city council plans to meet privately in executive session again next month to talk about next steps for the property. Fiegenschuh said the council will discuss ideas of what they’d like to see at the site and a more specific RFP will likely involve a larger search and get into the Chicagoland area.

“We kept it pretty regional for the last one,” Fiegenschuh said. “Everyone on the council has different ideas, and we want to get them down on paper. There are specific things they’d like to see at that site.” 

The Hickory Grove building demolition was completed earlier this year. The city assumed ownership of the deteriorating building in early 2020 for $1 with the intention of demolishing it and developing the property. The building was previously owned by the Ogle County Civic Center Authority (OCCCA) board, which was under the Ogle County Board umbrella. The city decided to purchase the site so it could control it and likely would’ve had to deal with it later if it was abandoned due to OCCCA being in financial trouble. 

The $361,900 demolition project of the facility at 1127 N. 7th St. began in January. Half of the total cost of the project will be funded by a Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Rebuild Illinois grant reimbursement up to $365,750. 

Land transfer work is currently ongoing between the city and the Comfort Inn Hotel next to the Hickory Grove property. Four parcels the hotel currently owns would be beneficial to the city and eventual developer and one parcel the city owns would be given to the Comfort Inn.

While the city manager is looking forward to eventual development of the property, he said he’s happy to have made it to demolition completion, which was the main objective when the city bought Hickory Grove.

“And today, that site looks 1,000 times better than it did before,” Fiegenschuh said. “That was the main focus. Our engineers and contractors did a fantastic job on that demolition. I’m happy we’re at the point we’re at now.”

Short-term, community-type uses for the vacant property before it’s developed may come up in future council conversations, Fiegenschuh said. The city wants to be good neighbors to businesses in the area both in the short-term and when it comes to an eventual development. 

More will be made clear on the property’s future after council members bring back ideas and discuss them next month. The city hopes to get multiple development proposals in the future.

“Any time you have a vacant lot, you want to have multiple ideas for future development to review,” Fiegenschuh said. “We want a project that the community can be proud of. This isn’t a short-term process. We want to make sure we get the best fit for the site. We need to be patient and vigilant. But the main priority of the project was the demolition, and we got that accomplished.”

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