People in Mount Carroll, Ill., can expect to see some construction in early 2023 at the long-awaited Shimer Square project, since Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation (Growth) has recently awarded its $1.5 million Rebuild Illinois grant contracts.

The Rebuild Illinois grant was publicly bid out in two separate contracts: construction and abatement. The construction contract was awarded to Galena Repair & Maintenance and the abatement contract was awarded to the IITI Group, according to a Tuesday Growth release. Demolition will begin in the interior of the Sawyer House and once the site has been fully abated and cleared, construction will begin.

Demolition of the former maintenance building for the Shimer Square development took place Monday, Nov. 7, 2022.

Timing of any visible construction work will likely occur in early 2023, weather permitting.

“Growth has been diligently working behind the scenes for years to secure all of what the community is about to visibly see within the Shimer Square campus,” Brian Hollenback, President/CEO of Growth, said in the release. “Once trucks start pulling up, mark that as a huge pendulum swing with major construction activity following right behind it.

“Shimer Square’s redevelopment has attracted millions in federal and state resources. We have a lot of support and momentum. Look for big things happening in 2023.”

Redevelopment will start on three of the 17 total buildings on campus. Future phases are anticipated to provide additional housing, community, and commercial/retail space for lease. 

The vacant former college campus will be transformed into a mixed-use, diversified portfolio of housing, business incubation, artist and community space.

Growth was one of 11 projects funded by the Regional Economic Development component of
the Rebuild Illinois grant by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

The objective of the Regional Economic Development component is to provide grants to strengthen local economies and encourage the development of regional industry clusters.

Plans originally incorporated Rebuild Illinois funds into its first phase of construction efforts, but after careful review and input by IL DCEO, Rebuild Illinois funds were carved out into its own phase considered “Shimer Square Phase 1A.”

Phase 1A lays the groundwork for the larger Phase 1 and Phase 2 redevelopment efforts, specifically addressing the general rehabilitation to the Sawyer House, parking lot and sidewalk replacements, and masonry repairs to the main entrance gate.

Growth Corp. will use the Sawyer House to provide financial literacy services to people to help advance wealth building opportunities for those that live, work, or visit Shimer Square by providing vital community services including financial literacy, housing counseling, business resources through CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) lending resources that result in new businesses opening within the Shimer Square campus and beyond, the release said.

Activity is already starting on the campus, as Growth General Contracting coordinated the demolition of the dilapidated maintenance building on campus that occurred on Monday, Nov. 7th. The demolition was carefully coordinated to maintain and preserve as many of the bricks to reuse in redevelopment efforts on other buildings.

You can keep up to date on the project on the Shimer Square website.