Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation has been awarded a $1.5 million Rebuild Illinois capital grant for Shimer Square in Mount Carroll, a housing and business development, Gov. JB Pritzker announced last week.

Rebuild Illinois funds will specifically support Phase 1 of the Shimer Square redevelopment, which takes on three of the 17 buildings and the front entry gate, representing more than $12 million in total project costs, Growth officials said.

Phase 1 of Shimer Square consists of the adaptive-reuse of the Bennett and Hathaway Halls into the creation of 37 residential rental units.

Phase 1 also consists of the rehabilitation of the Sawyer House and repurposing the facility into a resource center for entrepreneurs, homeowners, and rentals so they have access to resources and tools to help create wealth-building opportunities for the future.

Growth officials said Phase 1 is set to close soon and will break ground later this year and will create and support more than 271 jobs through its 9-month construction period: 93 construction jobs, 165 indirect jobs, and 13 retained jobs upon construction completion.

One of the project’s objectives is to provide housing for corrections officials working at the Thomson federal prison, officials said.

As a HUD-approved housing counseling agency, GROWTH will utilize the Sawyer House to provide financial literacy services to individuals as well as offer space to a national CDFI, Bridge Investment CDC, to provide development services and specialized loan products for entrepreneurs wishing to open a business.

Phase 1 of the redevelopment is anticipated to generate annual property taxes of over $20,000 just with the three buildings, officially ignite community plans set forth for the campus that have been in place for decades, GROWTH officials said in a news release.

The $18.7 million Phase 2 for Shimer Square is expected to get underway soon, officials said. It will include the conversion of McKee/Hostetter and Dezendorf Halls into 51 housing studios. There will be one, two and three bedroom suites, with the largest studio apartment having 1,125 square feet. It is expected to create 200 construction jobs.

Also included in the project will be a community room, game room, library, walking path, community garden, bike racks, picnic tables and outdoor grill area.

Shimer Square is one of 11 projects identified by the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity that received grants totaling $16.5 million.

“These projects are focused on supporting key, long-term economic development priorities for our state and doing so with an eye for boosting investment in communities that previously were too often overlooked,” said Gov. Pritzker.

GROWTH President/CEO Brian Hollenback said, "The Rebuild Illinois grant was made possible by unanimous support given to GROWTH by the City of Mount Carroll, local and regional development partners, the Illinois Housing Development Authority, Illinois Historic Preservation Office, and so many others.

“We are humbled to be the developers of such a catalytic, multi-phase redevelopment of this campus. We look forward to bringing new opportunities for all through the creation of housing, job creation, and community resources through the Shimer Square redevelopment.

"The Rebuild Illinois grant is highly competitive, and through hard work and dedication by GROWTH's staff and our meticulously curated redevelopment strategy for Shimer Square, truly demonstrates just how aligned this redevelopment effort to state and local plans. We are so humble and proud to bring this type of investment to the Mount Carroll community."