November 7, 2002 – The Village of Valmeyer has selected the design team of Penta Engineering, Thouvenot, Wade & Moerchen, Gunther Nash and Geotechnology to provide professional services for the Village’s Rock City Business Complex.
The Rock City Business Complex is the former Columbia Quarry site and consists of more than 5 million square feet of underground limestone mine area. In a project designed by TWM, the entire Village of Valmeyer relocated to higher ground after the flood of 1993. In order to do so, the Village purchased 500 acres of land atop the nearby bluffs. But among the many roadblocks encountered by the Village was the revelation that the Columbia Quarry owned the mineral rights under the site chosen for the new community. The quarry would not sell those rights to the Village unless the Village also purchased the old quarry site. In doing so Valmeyer officials took on a significant financial burden and with it significant risk.
But with the same tenacity that built a new community from the ground up, they worked diligently to convert property for which some may have seen little use, to a major development opportunity for the community. With temperatures moderated at a consistent level year-round, the “caves” of old quarries like this offer ideal space for warehousing and other manufacturing or storage. The design team will provide for structural stabilization of the roof and for the utilities needed by potential tenants. The project proposes some unique challenges, in that all utilities, including water and sanitary sewer must be suspended from the ceiling rather than being buried, as would be typical on most projects.
In late March the State of Illinois announced that it would release two grants, totaling $920,000, to be used towards the infrastructure improvements. The first of the two new grants in the amount of $500,000 is from the Community Development Assistance Program (CDAP). It will pay for the lighting, demolition and cleanup, hanging assemblies for utilities, and portal and roof stabilization. The second grant in the amount of $420,000 is from the Business Development Public Infrastructure Program (BDPIP) and will be used for security and fencing, and portal and roof stabilization. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs (DCCA) administers both programs.
DCCA will partner with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) in this project. EDA previously awarded the $1,894,053 towards the project, which, like the DCCA grants, will fund infrastructure improvements. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will also provide $384,000 in Economic Development Program (EDP) funds for roadway construction within the complex. IDOT will fund 50 percent of the construction costs for a 3,100-foot road to connect the interior storage facilities in the underground storage park. EDP funds through the Illinois FIRST program target transportation improvements that help communities retain or attract businesses and associated jobs.
As a result of these grants, Cold Storage, Inc., a new start public refrigerated warehouse and logistics business, agreed to enter into a lease with land developer Joe Koppeis to create a 101,000 square foot, temperature controlled warehouse facility within the caverns. The project promises the creation of 60 full-time positions within two years. The refrigerated warehouse space will pave the way for a wide range of additional commercial activity including industrial, retail, and office space.