ROCK FALLS – Plans are being finalized to transform a vacant industrial building into a special events facility.
Larry and Mary McCormick, owners of McCormick’s Nursery and Garden Center, bought the Rock River Tool and Die building at 205 E. Third St. in Rock Falls this summer. The machinery company had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on May 19, 2017.
McCormick learned Thursday that he would gain additional parking space for the banquet hall that will be able to accommodate large groups for a variety of events such as weddings and business parties.
The city’s Industrial Development Commission called a special meeting to rule on McCormick’s request to buy land adjoining his new property. The panel unanimously agreed to sell the small strip of land to McCormick for $18,340.
The IDC, which technically owns the city’s development properties, went into closed session Thursday to discuss the land sale, and in about 15 minutes, came back to open session with its verdict.
Lori Sheridan of Dixon will manage the facility for the McCormicks. Sheridan owns Nichols Greenhouses in Dixon and the landscapers have been friends for a long time. The collaboration is the result of many years of entrepreneurial brainstorming sessions.
“We live near each other and we’ve talked about doing different business projects for years,” Sheridan said. “One day I realized that there isn’t a special events facility in the area that can comfortably hold more than 300 people.”
The McCormicks liked the idea and they started looking at buildings. They had targeted a few other sites, but the deals fell through. When they looked at the Third Street building with plenty of indoor and outdoor space, everything started to fall into place. The fact that it was right in the heart of the city’s riverfront development plans made it even better.
“We really liked this building, and when we learned that the riverfront hotel had been asking for conference centers, everything started coming to life,” Sheridan said.
Sheridan bought Nichols Greenhouses from Terry and Bonnie Nichols 3 years ago, and she intends to keep running that business.
While the facility will handle all types of gatherings, weddings will be the show-stopper.
“We want to be able to offer just about everything brides and grooms will need – tables, chairs, a full bar, a pavilion, gazebo and a designated caterers area,” Sheridan said.
The area will be fenced in and the landscapers will work their magic to create a beautiful natural background for photos.
One thing the partners haven’t been able to agree on is a name for the business. They are meeting with engineers Willett, Hofmann & Associates and the city to finalize plans and construction should start soon.
They are shooting for a June opening, but events are already being booked.
City officials are glad to see their work in marketing the RB&W area start to pay off. The announcement came Sept. 4 that local investor Pete Harkness planned to buy 5.6 acres of land across the street from the Holiday Inn Express & Suites at 301 E. Second St.
“This is an exciting time for the city,” Mayor Bill Wescott said. “The banquet facility will be a great addition and it’s something that is also needed by the hotel.”
A sale agreement, at a price of $700,000, is being finalized for the East Second Street property that extends from Avenue A to Wood Avenue.
A site plan hasn’t been finalized for the Harkness development area, but the area is zoned for mixed use and the city figures retail will figure prominently into the plan.
BOOKING AN EVENT
Events can now be scheduled at the new special events facility in Rock Falls by calling manager Lori Sheridan at 815-622-6799. The facility plans to open sometime in June.