Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation (GROWTH) is seeking proposals for the first phase of the long-planned Shimer Square redevelopment, 203 E. Seminary Street, in Mount Carroll, Ill.

On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Moline) announced an $800,000 federal grant for the Shimer Square Job and Daycare Creation Project. The grant was awarded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Community Economic Development Program.

“The Shimer Square redevelopment project in Mount Carroll is a fantastic example of local, state and federal government coming together with businesses to revitalize a community and preserve its history,” Bustos said in a Thursday release.

“I’m so glad to announce that this project will be receiving $800,000 in federal funding for their daycare creation project. I look forward to seeing the exciting transformation underway.”

The Community Economic Development (CED) program is a federal grant program that expands employment for people with low income in communities facing persistent poverty and high unemployment by investing in community development corporations that create and expand businesses and job opportunities.

The GROWTH request for proposals will include masonry restoration to the campus gate; general renovations and parking for the building commonly known as the Sawyer House; asbestos removal and interior building demolition for the buildings commonly known as Bennett and Hathaway Halls; and parking excavation and placement of base material.

This effort is being funded by the State of Illinois’ Rebuild Regional Economic Development Grant Program.

Full bid proposal packages can be found at either:

GROWTH was one of 11 nonprofits awarded Rebuild Illinois funds throughout the state of Illinois. Its $1.5 million award will be leveraged with an additional $33 million in these initial redevelopment efforts within 14-acre Shimer Square campus, according to a GROWTH release.

Former Shimer College

Shimer Square will cover the entire footprint of the former historic Shimer College, a 14-acre campus with a total of 17 buildings, former residential halls and instructional buildings solidly constructed between 1903 and 1975.The first phase of the project includes converting Hathaway Hall and Sawyer House to rental housing, repurposing Sawyer House as a Resource Center office and dismantling the Custodial Building to salvage materials.

Shimer College closed in 1979 and the redevelopment is expected to cost over $60 million, and done over several phases.

Shimer College was incorporated as a female-governed Mount Carroll Seminary in 1853. The College evolved and closed its campus in Mt. Carroll in 1979. Shimer Square’s total development budget exceeds more than $60 million over a series of phases. This will transform the campus into several diverse uses including housing, entertainment, dining, fitness, business incubation, and artist and community space, all rolled up into one sustainable, diverse, inclusive, equitable historical community asset built for the future.

The owner will conduct a walk-through for all interested parties from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 11, 13 and 14. Paper and electronic proposals will be accepted at GROWTH’s corporate office at 100 19th St., Suite 109, Rock Island, IL 61201 and afisher@growthcorp.org. The winning proposal will be announced on Nov. 4, 2022 at the GROWTH office.

GROWTH will choose the winning proposal based on qualifications and past work experiences and reserves the right to reject any and all proposals or any part thereof and to waive any irregularities or technicalities in the proposals received pursuant to this notice, according to the company.

Comprehensive redevelopment plan

The Rebuild Illinois grant funds will kick off GROWTH’s comprehensive redevelopment plan to entirely revitalize this historic, vacant former college campus by transforming it into a mixed-use, diversified portfolio of housing, business incubation, artist, and community space as a sustainable, diverse, inclusive, equitable historical community asset built for the future.

GROWTH’s Shimer Square project advances comprehensive redevelopment strategies. It is investing in stabilization and preservation efforts that will result in creation of more than 80 units of housing within GROWTH’s initial redevelopment phases, along with the creation of a Resource Center in the former college president’s home known as the Sawyer House.

Brian Hollenback is CEO of Rock Island-based Economic Growth Corp.

Future phases include supporting and nurturing small businesses through Shimer Square’s entrepreneur and startup incubators while developing the state’s workforce through construction related housing and business activity and making future investments to catalyze growth.

GROWTH announced an update to the community on its redevelopment efforts at Mayfest in May 2022. Mayfest has historically been held at the campus and was welcomed back after two years of being cancelled due to COVID.

“GROWTH continues to work hard behind the scenes to advance the shared plans that are starting to be realized for this historic campus,” Brian Hollenback, President/CEO for GROWTH, said in the release.

“We commemorate the next great step in reconnecting Shimer Square to the heart of our community. Our beloved campus will now see investment and opportunities that will bring in new residents and businesses into our community,” Mt. Carroll Mayor Carl Bates said in May. “I have fully supported GROWTH and their efforts on this campus and am extremely excited to see the redevelopment plan being realized.”

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