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ROCKFORD, ILL. — In what could be considered one of the more unique redevelopment projects proposed, local development partnership Rockford Renewal LLC has announced plans to redevelop the former St. Mary’s School, a Catholic school located in downtown Rockford, into Class A office space.

The building, which is located at 118 S. Winnebago St., will be renamed St. Mary Place upon completion. It will feature approximately 13,000 square feet of office space and will be divisible by 750 square feet. The building features 12-foot high ceilings and 9-foot high windows.

St. Mary’s School was first built in 1906 but has not housed students since 1974. Rockford Renewal approached the Rockford Diocese about redeveloping the property and purchased it from them earlier this year. With the economy suffering, smaller office projects such as this are becoming more attractive to developers such as Rockford Renewal.

“Financially, it’s less risky because you do not need as many tenants and it does not require a lot of equity to bring these buildings back to life compared to a larger building,” says Joe Anderson, a partner with Rockford Renewal. He adds that these things were not the primary reason why his company decided to embark on the project; it was mostly that the right project came along at the right time.

Upon completion, approximately one-third of the building will be occupied by Rockford Renewal, as well as Anderson’s other company, Anderson McInnis Architects. Other tenants will include a mechanical engineering firm and a structural firm. With the credit markets still tight, additional tenants will need to be secured before construction can begin, but to Melissa Miller, a commercial broker for Century 21 County North and the leasing agent for St. Mary Place, that should not be hard.

“[The building] is historic and beautiful, and the idea of having modern office space in a historic building downtown…makes it a cool, new way of doing office space,” Miller says, adding that the building’s location near the Winnebago County Justice Center makes it an ideal location for legal offices.

The project will also apply for LEED-Silver certification and, upon receiving the designation, will be one of the city’s first green buildings.

— Coleman Wood

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