26 Acre Colman Yards Development Begins Construction

26 Acre Colman Yards Development Begins Construction

In the heart of Rockford, Illinois, an ambitious project is taking shape, one that promises to breathe new life into a 26-acre property that has stood vacant for over two decades. The Barber Colman property, once a thriving multinational company and a center for innovation, is about to undergo a remarkable transformation.

Milwaukee real estate developer J. Jeffers & Co. has officially broken ground on what is now known as Colman Yards, a project with a price tag of $430 million. This redevelopment effort is not only about construction but also about revitalizing a piece of local history and creating opportunities for the community.


Phase 1A: Breathing New Life into Historic Factory Buildings

The first phase of this massive project, valued at $106 million, is already underway. Mayor Tom McNamara, Rockford City Administrator Todd Cagnoni, Alderwoman Gabrielle Torina, and Illinois State Rep. Maurice West were all present at the groundbreaking ceremony, highlighting the significance of this endeavor for the community. 

Phase One will include the following:


 - Founders Building (Residential)

160K SF Historic Rehabilitation / 181 Apartments / Club Room / Roof Deck / Co-Working Lounge


 - Parking Structure & Ground Floor Retail
144K SF New Construction / 336 Parking Spaces / 15,000 SF Retail


 - Central Commons (Mixed-Use)
56K SF Historic Rehabilitation / 34 Apartments / 15,900 SF Retail


Labor Force and Community Benefits

WREX News states that construction is at the core of this project, and it's expected to bring about 400 full-time equivalent construction jobs. What's noteworthy is the commitment to the local labor force. All workers on this project will be Illinois contractors, and there's an expectation that 20-30% of labor participation during construction will come from minority, women, veteran, and disadvantaged businesses. This emphasis on diversity and inclusion is a reflection of broader trends in the construction industry, which is increasingly recognizing the importance of a diverse workforce.


Prevailing Wages and Union Involvement

In addition to supporting local businesses and diverse participation, this project is also required to adhere to prevailing wage rules. Prevailing wages are mandated minimum pay rates on public projects that are often aligned with union rates. The use of prevailing wages ensures that construction workers are compensated fairly for their labor. It's an important aspect of construction projects, especially those involving public funds, as it helps maintain a level playing field and provides a decent standard of living for workers.


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The general contractor for this project is ENC Construction & Development, a Chicago-based company. The development team expects that between 20% and 30% of labor will come from minority, women, veteran, and disadvantaged business enterprises. This commitment to diverse labor participation not only benefits the community but also enriches the construction industry by fostering a more inclusive workforce.


A Vision for the Future

Beyond the construction aspect, the vision for Colman Yards is grand. The goal is to create "a new residential, commercial, retail, recreation, and public green space for the entire community to enjoy." This reflects the broader trend of modern urban development, where projects are designed not just for residents but for the community at large. It's about creating spaces that enhance the quality of life for everyone in the vicinity.


Multi-phase Endeavor

The Colman Yards project is a multi-phase endeavor, with Phase 1A being just the beginning.

The $106 million Phase 1A investment by J. Jeffers & Co. includes plans to reuse the three former factory buildings while keeping the historic integrity, along with a parking structure and retail space.

The entire development will include:


 - Rehabilitation of nine old factory buildings

 - New construction

 - Extensive site work


When completed, Colman Yards will be a new residential, retail, and public green space neighborhood and trade district for the community. It's a testament to the potential of redeveloping underutilized spaces into vibrant, thriving communities.


The Road Ahead

As Phase 1A gets underway, the Colman Yards project marks a significant milestone in Rockford's urban development. It promises to bring economic vitality, job opportunities, and a renewed sense of community to the area. Construction workers and local businesses are set to play a pivotal role in bringing this vision to life. It's a project that showcases the transformative power of construction and its ability to shape the future of cities and communities.

In conclusion, the Barber Colman property's redevelopment into Colman Yards is a testament to the enduring spirit of revitalization. It's not just about constructing buildings; it's about creating a vibrant, inclusive, and prosperous community. The construction field, with its commitment to diverse labor, prevailing wages, and community-centric projects, is at the forefront of this transformation. As the project progresses, it will stand as a shining example of what can be achieved when construction meets vision and community meets progress.


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Posted by Judy Lamelza

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