Hickory Grove demolition: ‘I think they did a fantastic job’

Work mostly complete, city to go out for proposals soon

Jeff Helfrich
Posted 3/24/22

The Hickory Grove demolition project is “mostly completed,” Rochelle City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh said Wednesday.

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Hickory Grove demolition: ‘I think they did a fantastic job’

Work mostly complete, city to go out for proposals soon


ROCHELLE — The Hickory Grove demolition project is “mostly completed,” Rochelle City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh said Wednesday. 

All debris and demolition equipment have been removed from the site. Remaining work including landscaping and facade work on the Comfort Inn hotel next door must wait until the weather is nicer, Fiegenschuh said. 

Other remaining issues on the project for the city include subdividing and replatting the property and coming to an agreement on a land swap with the hotel. There are several parking spaces in the front portion of the Hickory Grove lot that are owned by the hotel, and the hotel desires some property currently owned by the city so it can put in a new pool, Fiegenschuh said. 

The city hopes to come to an agreement and bring the land swap before its Planning & Zoning Commission in May for a recommendation before it goes in front of the city council. 

Fiegenschuh said he plans to work with Community Development Director Michelle Pease and engineering firm Willett, Hofmann & Associates to put together a request for proposal to put out for developers interested in the Hickory Grove site. Willett, Hofmann & Associates has worked on the project since the city purchased Hickory Grove and has supervised the demolition. 

“I want to make sure we do it right, but I'm hoping within the next 30-45 days we'll have an RFP done that we can take to council and make sure they're OK with it and advertise for it,” Fiegenschuh said. “I'm hoping in the next 45 days we'll have something out publicly. There are folks who are interested. I've had conversations recently with folks who would like to consider doing projects.” 

The city manager wants to keep the issue moving due to the possibility that interest rates and building costs going up could make an eventual development harder to do. Responders will likely have three weeks to a month to get a proposal to the city. Fiegenschuh guesses development firms will be interviewed and top choices or all proposals will be brought to the council, which will decide who it wants to partner with. 

"I would hope we'll see the mayor and council decide on something publicly and something happens at that site before the end of the year,” Fiegenschuh said. “There are a lot of things going on in this economy that are out of our control. Somebody might be interested in developing it, but if interest rates go up a half a percent and building costs go up, maybe somebody says they want to do it but they have to wait a couple of years. I don't know. We're going to do everything we can to keep the process rolling."

As far as how the demolition went, Fiegenschuh said he can’t thank the mayor and council enough for allowing him to hire Willett, Hofmann & Associates to oversee the project. Their representative, Luke Dixon, was on-site each day and communicated with the city, the demolition contractor, the hotel, condo association and utility companies.

The city manager also sang the praises of the project’s contractor, McDonagh Demolition. 

"I am 100 percent satisfied with McDonagh,” Fiegenschuh said. “I think they did a fantastic job. I was very worried we were going to find something buried or who knows what else. It went very well. It was a building attached to a hotel that has floors of condos and multiple interested parties. We had to keep everyone happy and make sure everyone was satisfied. I think everything has gone very well."

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. 

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. 

“There's a sense of satisfaction knowing we're going to get something else there at some point that the community can be proud of,” Fiegenschuh said. “It's definitely different when you drive by there and you can see straight back to the apartments and parts of the hotel that weren't visible. Within the next year we'll get another project and people can be proud of it and still remember Hickory Grove for what it was and hopefully be happy with the new project for what it will be."