Now that a petition has failed that would have given city residents a chance to voice their opinion at the polls, it appears a $9.2 million Civic Center expansion project will move forward.
When construction work shuts down the Civic Center, the city is looking to move activities to Three Star Mall.
According to Parks and Recreation Department director Scott McCord, his search for a temporary facility found two locations that would be suitable. The first was the mall and the second was 203 Durham Street, the old Rockford plant.
“We did an extensive search of property,” said McCord. “We visited and looked at different locations. We would pass a sign that said ‘For Sale’ and we’d go. That’s how we stumbled across the old Rockford sock factory. It is usable space but a lot of work has to be done to it.”
Rent for Durham Street is $6,041 a month with a two-year lease and then month to month after that. It does not include utilities.
“It offers a little over 14,000 square feet and needs to have work to make it available for us,” said McCord. “Parking and outdoor lighting is an issue with it being gravel.”
Three Star Mall is $4,689 a month in rent with a one-year lease and then month to month after that. It includes all utilities except electricity.
“Three Star Mall is a little over 10,000 square feet added together,” said McCord. “It has parking, lighting, restrooms, hours, and ability to have a quasi-walking trail. Three Star Mall checks all the boxes and would be our recommendation for temporary relocation.”
The city would be using five spaces located at the Roses end of the mall. When visitors enter the double doors, the city’s spaces would begin immediately on the right-hand side. Four of the spaces are in that section of the mall. The fifth space would be the old Radio Shack location.
“Our offices would be where their offices used to be,” said McCord. “All the spaces are right there, except for Radio Shack. They all connect.”
The spaces would be used for the Civic Center Wellness Center, various classes and activities.
The information and recommendation was presented to members of the city’s Parks and Recreation Committee.
“I think the mall is, out of the two, the best location just for safety with people being around,” said Alderman Kate Alsbrook.
Alderman Steve Harvey added, “You’ll have the walking, that’s there already. I can’t see anything bad about this myself.”
The mall opens at 5 a.m. for walkers.
“You need to get this lease extended to a full two-year term,” said city attorney Tim Pirtle. “It wouldn’t make sense to enter into a one-year lease when you know you are going to be there a minimum of 18 months, if not 24.”
Pirtle also suggested including a month-to-month rental at the same rate past the two-year lease and a clause to allow for early termination with a written notice by either party.
McCord said those changes would be agreeable to mall manager Brook Holmes.
Committee members approved Three Star Mall as the location. Board of Mayor and Aldermen approval is required for a lease agreement.