The last bricks have finally fallen on the former site of the Servus rubber factory in Rock Island.
Last week, demolition crews knocked down the remaining buildings at 1136 2nd Street and formed piles of bricks. These will be crushed and a burning permit will be requested to destroy the remaining trees on the property. In December 2018, demolition began with the first five-story tower to fall.
Owner Richard Getty said the demolition cost more than $500,000. With over $2 million invested in the site over the years, he now plans to spend more. Getty said he plans to construct a 75-80,000 square foot building on the property.
The hope, he said, is that it will be leased to a European limited company to be used for manufacturing purposes. The building is in a prime location, close to the river and in a town where manufacturing jobs are welcome, he said.
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“We worked hard on this project,” he said. “It took me a long time to get here.”
Getty said he hoped to send a team to the site and soon begin taking videos and photos for a marketing brief.
The factory was founded in 1922 and as of 2006 was the largest manufacturer on Rock Island. Servus Rubber was locally owned until 1970 when it was sold to Chromalloy American Corp. of St. Louis. In the early 1980s the company was losing money and Chromalloy put it up for sale. A representative said plant closure was a possibility if a buyer was not found.
In 1982 the company was purchased by Mike Cappy and an associate in Louisville, Kentucky. With the acquisition of six other manufacturing plants, Cappy founded Norcross Cos., eventually Norcross Safety Products, based in Oak Brook, Illinois. In 2008, the company was purchased by New Jersey-based Honeywell International Inc. and became Honeywell Safety Products.
It closed in 2011, putting 245 people out of work, and has been vacant ever since. Getty and a partner bought the factory after it closed in 2011. After years of deterioration that Getty said he was unaware of, he “was left with the property and all the obligations,” including including thousands of dollars in back taxes.
The latter resulted in a legal battle between the City of Rock Island and Getty, with each side suing the other. Getty said Monday he was prepared to give up his suit if the city gave up theirs. The next court date is set for September 8.
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