City taking bids for Hickory Grove demolition

Project could begin before the end of the year

Jeff Helfrich
Posted 11/1/21

The City of Rochelle began taking bids recently for the demolition of Hickory Grove, City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh said.

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City taking bids for Hickory Grove demolition

Project could begin before the end of the year

Posted

ROCHELLE — The City of Rochelle began taking bids recently for the demolition of Hickory Grove, City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh said. 

The city purchased the Hickory Grove property in early 2020 for $1 with the intention of demolishing it and developing the property. Before the pandemic and unforeseen issues with the building, the city hoped demolition would take place last year. It applied for and received a $350,000 Rebuild Illinois grant for the project. 

The city had to go through environmental reviews for the grant and wait for it to be formally announced, which occurred about a month ago, Fiegenschuh said. An access agreement with the Comfort Inn was approved by the city council to separate Hickory Grove properly from the hotel next door. Land swaps were done involving a future pool for the hotel and parking spots that will go to the city. 

“There were other little things as well and they’re all worked out,” Fiegenschuh said. “We’re taking demolition bids. We have four companies who have reached out that are interested so far. We hope to have a good bid for the city council to approve at its Nov. 22 meeting. We’ll have to sign all the documents and I’d hope we’d start to see movement on a demolition within a month of that if the weather allows.”

Fiegenschuh said he was unsure of what the cost of the demolition could be and declined to guess at a potential number. 

In the past, the city manager has said the inner workings of the building are “very disjointed” and there are multiple electrical and HVAC systems inside. That and its connection to the hotel could make for an interesting demolition, but Fiegenschuh said he’s confident in how it will go. 

“You always worry about how a building like that could come down, because it has shared entrances with other facilities,” Fiegenschuh said. “But we have a great engineering firm and I’m confident everything will be OK with it coming down, but we may find issues we didn’t know about before.”

Fiegenschuh has also said in the past that there are developers that have reached out with interest in the site once it's demolished. He said while the city doesn’t want to get too ahead of itself before demolition, those official conversations on development could start in the spring or summer. 

Past developers that have reached out had interest in businesses that could help address housing and retail needs in town, Fiegenschuh said in recent months. 

“We’ll request proposals for development and see what’s out there,” Fiegenschuh said Tuesday. “We want the highest quality, best use for that location because it’s so visible and an important part of our town.”

Even before the city purchased Hickory Grove and began making moves to get it demolished, Fiegenschuh attended Ogle County Civic Center Authority (OCCCA) board meetings, which was under the Ogle County Board umbrella. That board previously owned and oversaw the building. 

OCCCA was a volunteer group that Fiegenschuh praised for doing “the best it could” in trying to stay open for years with little funding. 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. 

Fiegenschuh said putting the demolition project out for bid was a good feeling.

“It feels like I can breathe again,” Fiegnschuh said. “I’m super excited. Once I started as city manager in 2017, I attended OCCCA meetings and that group worked so hard to keep it going. But it wasn’t a viable facility. We’ve spent so much staff time on this since.”