Lemon Offers to Buy R.I. County Courthouse

Jan 22, 2020

the Rock Island County courthouse
Credit WVIK News

Rock Island County now has an official offer to buy the courthouse. Tuesday night, local real estate developer Joe Lemon presented his offer to the county board - for 500,000 dollars, with a commitment to invest 8 million to renovate and restore the 124-year old building.

"Which could be used for offices related to the other courthouse things that are not far from the newly-built courthouse annex, but also could be used for governmental purposes too. We're told that the county has failing offices of its own and would like to be in a nicer space."

Lemon says a key part of his proposal is the availability of historic tax credits from the state of Illinois - they've been available in Iowa for several years, but just since last year in Illinois. 

"So if you think about why we've had such successful re-development in downtown Davenport and elsewhere in Iowa, that's one of the key drivers. So here Illinois has now provided its own version of that. And so taken together, there's a real viable opportunity for the re-purposing of this building."

Lemon says if Rock Island County accepts his offer, it would not have to spend 1.6 million dollars to demolish the courthouse, and it would not have to defend itself in the lawsuit filed the by the state to save the building.

County officials have been contacted for comment on Lemon's offer.