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Firm Proposes Massive Visionary Rockville Development Project

A preliminary plan was presented on Tuesday.

Mayor George Apel introduces First Alliance CEO John DiIorio. Photo Credit: Chris Dehnel
Mayor George Apel introduces First Alliance CEO John DiIorio. Photo Credit: Chris Dehnel
A national firm specializing in loss mitigation refinancing on Tuesday laid out a massive plan to revitalize - and essentially rebuild - the commercial  district of Downtown Rockville along West Main Street. 

East Hartford-based First Alliance Lending, which also has an operations center in Houston - made an extensive presentation at the Town Council meeting. The company is private.

In a combination of the firm's new corporate headquarters, along with retail and office space that could measure up to 350,000 square feet, the revitalization project could be finished by late 2015 with more than 1,000 employees, CEO John DiIorio said. 

The project would be funded partially by bank financing, partially by First Alliance itself and the firm is working with the state, DiIorio said. He said no financial conditions have been discussed with the town. He said the plans are preliminary and no price tag is being released. 

There could also be additional recreational space across the street near Town Hall, DiIorio said. 

While introducing DiIorio, an emotional Mayor George Apel said, "To be frank, I did not think I would see something like this in my lifetime."

DeIorio was frank in his no-nonsense presentation. He said in his company's role in turning around "borrowers in distress," he has had many conversations in Washington D.C with both members of congress and "at the cabinet level." He said he is "not intimidated" by what it would take to get a large project in a former thriving mill town done.
 
"If people are put in a position to succeed - put in a position of affordability - they will take care of themselves," DiIorio said. "Plenty of communities have suffered Rockville's fate and what has been left behind are bones with no real value. A shopping mall is not Rockville's solution. Jobs and people in Downtown Rockville are - a pedestrian environment." 

DiIorio said he took in the sites from atop Fox Hill, near the tower, and saw potential. 

"It's hard to explain, but something hit home for me," he said. "I hope we can figure this out, because I believe we can make it happen and I want to be part of this community."

He added, "It's karma. Does that sound hokey"? Not to me."

He said he envisions 200,000 square feet of office space and then another 100,000 square feet of retail "and pedestrian stuff at the street level. He said there is "not much Victorian showing" in the initial plans, but there will be.

"We want to recapture the water aspect and one of my big hangups is that I want a lot of mom-and-pop stores. I want it to feel not like 2013, but more like 1896," he said. "You do not get that done with Starbucks and other national chain types of retail business."

DiIorio said a theater for both corporate and community use could included as well as some type of recreation development - and he mentioned a possible skate park - across the street near Town Hall. 

He said he has about 160 employees now but wants to expand "rapidly" and move to Rockville in two years. He said he wants to work with existing tenants and move them around while the project is completed in phases. He said fewer than 100 jobs would be in Texas.

The project will also involved solar and geothermal energy systems, he said. 

Apel said the jobs would be well-paying and involve financial professionals working different hours servicing different time zones.

DiIorio would not commit to a cost regarding the project. He said several more informational meetings will be scheduled. He also said he is not interested in having the proposal used by local politicians "for political gain."

Apel said everyone in town "should work as a team to get this done."
One Voice June 19, 2013 at 06:41 AM
Congratulations to the Mayor for all his hard work putting this incredible deal together. We look forward to the revitalization of beautiful downtown Rockville.
Danno June 19, 2013 at 08:35 AM
Wow!! This is huge if the plan comes to fruition. This could mean positive change for Rockville! For all those who want a small business I recommend you start thinking of the opportunity that this could provide to you.
Bert June 19, 2013 at 09:04 AM
I thought that all the ribbon cuttings of new and expanding businesses and the sale of two mills for renovation in the past two years was big stuff!!! This is beyond my imagination! Let's have a collective"Crossing of Fingers" that this comes to fruition. It will be life changing for our town.
Marisa Roy June 19, 2013 at 10:38 AM
Wow! Congratulations---Nothing could make me happier than to see this take place!
Betty Lou June 19, 2013 at 11:20 AM
Sounds like just what we need. Only hope it's not going to be yet another disappointment.
cmmj June 19, 2013 at 03:06 PM
Thank goodness!!
Vernon Taxpayer June 19, 2013 at 10:51 PM
Rockville the Falls of Opportunity. This is wonderful! Please let us know when they will be having more workshops.

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