Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mall removal contract payback for Rick's Place?

Tonight, Stenstrom was picked by the city council for a $1.9 million project to finally get rid of the crumbling pedestrian mall downtown.

There's been a lot of speculation about the fact that Ringland-Johnson bid $17,000 lower than Stenstrom, and there could be something to it. There have been hints R-J could pursue legal action as a result of being passed over, but there's a reason Larry, a lawyer by trade, keeps such a well-staffed legal department.

Someone on RRStar.com keeps commenting that Stenstrom gave $2,500 to the Morrissey campaign. While that's a relatively modest donation by Rockford mayoral standards, it's not nothing.

Although Ringland-(Brent)Johnson supported Mayor Scott, not Morrissey, I don't think this has much to do with political contributions.
If there is a conspiracy here, my guess is that it has more to do with Brent Johnson's decision to build the Rick Nielsen-Mecca at Riverside and I-90, instead of downtown. After making the rounds collecting tax breaks for the venture, ground has yet to be broken 20 months later as the economy has gone flacid.

Nielsen and Johnson's choice of locale hardly demonstrates a commitment to downtown, much to Larry's chagrin, and it wouldn't surprise me if the project is being strongarmed to shoot for downtown instead, after letting them sweat it out a bit of course.

It's possible that, until Rick and Brent learn to play nice with Larry, he may keep all the toys to himself.

When the proposed expanded gaming package inevitably dies in Springfield, Johnson and Nielsen may scuttle back to the table to see what additional incentives might be offered downtown to make the project happen.

My gut tells me we haven't heard the last of this.


  1. So I didn't give it much thought when I dashed off the campaign contribution comment,but your well-reasoned insight jogged my fragile memory...(from "LarryBoy in his...")

    Mon Sep 24, 2007 3:41 pm
    And tucked away in the weekend paper...
    Nielsen's guitars focus of hotel-museum plan
    Sep 22, 2007 @ 10:29 PM
    By Chuck Sweeny

    ...Now, after a year of planning and brainstorming, rocker Nielsen and Johnson, who is president and CEO of Ringland Johnson Construction Co., have conjured up a development that combines Nielsen's guitars, his musical skills, showmanship and worldwide fame,...That kind of star power is enough to take people off Interstate 90 at Riverside Boulevard and keep them here for a few hours to a few days, Nielsen and Johnson believe.

    Specifically, Nielsen and Johnson are paying Landmark Development $2.5 million for 6.2 acres at the southwest corner of I-90 and Riverside, Johnson said. Cost of the development is $25 million. The hotel, conference center, restaurant, guitar museum, music education center and entertainment venue is expected to employ 250 people.

    Now LarryBoy has ALWAYS played up his love of Cheap Trick, and Neilsen did campaign ads for Lar...and for YEARS they've said they just need a hotel downtown to really compliment the MetroCentre....so WHERE is this "commitment" to the city ending up????
    the southwest corner of I-90 and Riverside....swell....

    Seems to recall they only received OK for half of the $10million tax rebate asked from the city...

  2. Having lived in Augsburg, Germany for a few years and other places in Europe, I always wondered why we would want to tear out the only Fussgaengerzone in Rockford.

    It's too late now to make it work the right way it should have in theory.

    I suspect that we will revisit this idea in the future as urban sprawl reverses itself in an implosion towards downtown.

    The idea of a Casino, which I personally loath, would help the downtown development - eventually.

    Either way, I believe foot and bicycle accessible urban Rockford will eventually happen.

    Every urban renewal has its own trajectory.

    Rockford's trajectory has a slow angle of ascent when I compare it to Eau Claire or La Crosse, Wisconsin.

    But, Rockford will ascend.

    When, and how, is up to Rockfordians.

  3. Sadly, most Rockfordians are unaware of what really happens in terms of "community development." If a public hearing, if any, is held, the deal is already done and the hearing is more of a formality (a requirement of some funding streams) or a way to placate the masses.

    We all can agree that negotiations must occur for all parties to feel as though they benefit in some capacity. However, when parties involved in community development personally benefit from the negotiation, then that's a real problem. An even bigger problem is not being able to do anything about it.

  4. I think we are in need of more rain... I also was checking prices to The Dom Rep and with huricane season approaching, now is the time to get some surfin' in.

  5. Hey, **knock** **knock** is this mic on?