Sunday, November 13 was the grand opening and ribbon cutting for the new Marshalls in Freeport. Looking at the smiles on the faces of the new employees and customers strolling in for an opportunity to shop for items they normally would have to travel to other communities for was nice to see. Providing our residents with more choices in retail allows them to spend more of their shopping time in our community and less time driving to other communities to make their purchases.
A bonus to the morning was when Marshalls presented a $10,000 check to the Voices of Stephenson County, a local non-profit that offers individuals and families survivor-centered services and support in the treatment and prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault and abuse.
We are proud to know that our work at the Partnership played a pivotal role in the project coming to fruition.
The Partnership strives to be a “solution-driven problem solver.” In this instance, the Partnership convened meetings with the former owner of The Meadows Shopping Center and the new prospective owner to discuss project scope and financial gaps that existed, and then proceeded with developing solutions that helped bridge the gap.
Working with a seasoned developer/owner who has good relationships with retail industry decisionmakers certainly streamlines the process. In this case the new owner/developer, Victor Baeten, brought this to the table.
It is also a balance of tenant mixture, timing, and costs that make any development work. Mr. Baeten said “when I first looked at this property in 2016 the timing wasn’t right. I wish I had the 2016 construction pricing however.”
With timing right, the Partnership introduced our cost-reduction programs such as the enterprise zone, tax increment financing (TIF) and introduced the Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (CPACE) program all designed to reduce costs and bridge the gap, while establishing developer commitments that benefit the community.
At the Partnership, its not just the staff that works on these types of projects, it also includes our private-sector board members and partners who often bring their expertise and are part of the solution driven process. The Partnership worked with Mr. Baeten, the City of Freeport, and area financial partners to help bring this exciting project to fruition.
Additional tenants new to the market have been secured as The Meadows is being renovated, with more to come. We understand the importance of having local, expansive retail choices for the retention and attraction of a talented workforce. The Marshalls grand opening is just the beginning but it’s a huge step in making the rest fall into place.
Mark Williams is the executive director of the Partnership and can be reached at email@example.com and 815-233-1356.