Brownfields Revitalization

What is a Brownfield?

A brownfield is a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.  A 2022 inventory identified 880 brownfield properties within the City of Rockford.  The map-based brownfields inventory can be viewed at the public Tolemi Building Blocks website by navigating to the “Environmental” filter in the upper right corner.  The City recognizes that clean-up and redevelopment of these underutilized and potentially contaminated properties is a key component in improving multiple variables that contribute to economic growth and blight reduction. The City of Rockford has been very successful in applying for and using Federal and State Brownfields Grant Funds dating back to 2000, when the City was selected as one of the original United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfield Pilot Programs.

Brownfield Accomplishments 

For over 20 years, the City of Rockford, US EPA, Illinois EPA, its community stakeholders, and engaged constituents have worked closely together to assess and clean-up perceived and confirmed environmental hazards at several valuable redevelopment sites in our community. A few of our project successes are featured below.

  • Embassy Suites by Hilton Rockford Riverfront & Rockford Conference Center Project Profile

Active Brownfields Planning, Assessment, Cleanup, and Redevelopment Projects

Due to our extensive industrial heritage and our proactive approach at brownfields revitalization, it is common for the City of Rockford to have several concurrent brownfields projects occurring at various stages.  Current active projects include:

Brownfield Redevelopment Opportunities 

The City of Rockford is actively seeking interested parties to partner with on redeveloping City acquired brownfield properties. With a variety of local development incentives available and our ability to secure and leverage several State and Federal funding sources, the City of Rockford has established itself nationally as a model community in the brownfields redevelopment market. To inquire about the following City-owned brownfields properties and available economic incentives, please contact Economic Development Director Anna Garrison at 779-348-7449 or [email protected].

Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund Program

Cleanup loans are available from the City of Rockford Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund. Any persons or organizations, public or private, who have access to the property and are not responsible for the contamination may apply for a loan, which come with flexible interest rates and repayment terms. Eligible activities include the cleanup of soil and groundwater, lead paint removal, and asbestos abatement. Loan requests are reviewed by the City’s Community & Economic Development Department before being referral to City Council for final approval. Special eligibility rules apply for property owners and sites. To inquire about Revolving Loan Funds, please contact Rob Wilhelmi, Brownfields Redevelopment Specialist, at 779-348-7425 or email at: [email protected].

  • FY2023 Supplemental Revolving Loan Fund Program Work Plan

Community Engagement, Accountability, Pending Applications

The City of Rockford strongly recognizes that community participation and stakeholder involvement play an essential role in successful brownfields redevelopment.  There are numerous success stories across the nation that can attest.  It is the ideas and needs of our community that helps us prioritize the brownfields in our community and seek out the necessary resources to transform blight into an asset that contributes to improvement in our citizens quality of life and our economic state. To inquire or provide comments on the City’s brownfields revitalization efforts, please contact Rob Wilhelmi, Brownfields Redevelopment Specialist, at 779-348-7425 or email at: [email protected].

Would you like to see where our EPA brownfields grant funds have been spent in Rockford? Head over to EPA’s Cleanups in My Community site to view information on our sites.

Local Brownfields in the News

Photos: Barber-Colman Complex In Rockford Then And Now (1/17/2023)

Rockford Approves Barber Colman Zoning Changes (11/7/2022)

Housing to play major role in Colman Yards proposal for south Rockford (10/25/2022)

Rockford’s Barber Coleman Campus: The Next Big Project Downtown (5/18/2022)

$3.9 million grant for Rockford brownfield cleanup projects (5/17/2022)

Rockford’s Barber Colman developer gets extension (3/14/2022)

City leaders discuss future of Barber Colman Project (3/11/2022)

A look inside Rockford’s Barber Colman Complex (12/15/2021)

New roof could mean new life for historic downtown Rockford building (10/14/2021)

Rockford City Council approves sale of Barber Colman (10/4/2021)

City Approves Two Brownfields Prevention Ordinances (11/18/2020) Nuisance Solid Waste  Nuisance Underground Storage Tanks

City of Rockford Awarded Assistance from US EPA to Redevelop Southwest Portion of the City (6/16/2020)

Rockford to Receive EPA Assistance Over Brownfields (6/16/2020)

City of Rockford receives EPA grant to clean up downtown properties (5/6/2020)

Rockford Looks to Clean Up Contaminated Properties (11/18/2019)

City Presents Brownfields Revitalization Updates to Haight Village Neighborhood Association (9/19/2019)

Rockford wins $400K EPA grant for Barber-Colman site (6/21/2019)

EPA Announces the Selection of 2 communities to Receive $600,000 in Funding for Brownfields Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup Grants to Address Contaminated Properties in the Rockford, Ill. Area (6/5/2019)

City Presents Brownfields Program Updates to Signal Hill Neighborhood Group (4/11/2019)

City Meets with Auburn West Side Business Group to Discuss Brownfields and Other Revitalization Programs (3/21/2019)

Barber Colman TIF District approval nears final hurdle (1/7/2019)

EPA Provides Rockford with $500,000 to Fund Brownfield Cleanups (7/7/2018)