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Reimagining Sterling's riverfront: See the plan to transform 2 industrial buildings

The City of Sterling is working with developers to turn the Lawrence Brothers and Stanley-National buildings into hubs of living and commerce.

STERLING, Ill. — The City of Sterling is looking to revitalize two industrial complexes on the riverfront.

Officials are working with developers Gorman & Company and Studio GWA on their "Riverfront Reimagined" project, whose goal is to transform the Lawrence Brothers and Stanley-National buildings into places of living and commerce.

"We've already come to the community and asked, 'well what are your priorities? What could the site sustain?'" Gorman & Company Illinois Market President Ron Clewer said. "We heard ideas like workforce housing, affordable housing, a brewery, a hotel, a banquet and convention center. Office space, a maker space. These are all ideas that are floating out there."

Studio GWA did much of the preparation work in 2020, studying the local area and creating the initial designs and renderings. 

Gorman & Company will be responsible for the construction and further design work.

However, the project comes with a hefty price tag: Clewer said the total cost could exceed $300 million, and that it could take at least ten years to fully complete.

Developers said that revitalizing the existing buildings instead of demolishing and building from scratch helps offset that cost. 

They explained that with this approach, they can designate the buildings as historic, which gives them greater access to grants.

City officials and developers said the location will bring new jobs and a boost to the local economy.

"Our goal is to drive money to the citizens and City of Sterling," Clewer explained. "That way we build an economic cycle. More tax revenue, more jobs, more living opportunities - higher quality of life for residents."

He and his staff are optimistic about the possibilities.

"A lot of people see decay and blight, and we see significant opportunity," Clewer said. "[The city has] some of the most beautiful buildings along the river, and we're excited to bring them back to life."

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