Once thought to be contaminated, Janesville riverfront site given the all-clear for development

A property along the Rock River near downtown Janesville is ready for development, according to the city’s economic development director, Gale Price.

Price said the site, which is the former home of the Rock County Jail and an automotive workshop, was thought to have contaminated soil.

“We were worried about things like PCBs or PFAS (per-and polyfluoralkyl substances),” Price said. “That stuff that takes an incredibly long time to clean up.”

But Price said the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has found the site has only a small issue with very minor contaminants.

“I would say as sites go, there’s impacts, but nothing too different from impacts we find at urban sites.” said Steve Meer, Senior Engineer of the Sigma Group in Milwaukee.

In May, a potential developer walked away from building on the property, citing the contaminants as a concern. Price said that, now, future developers shouldn’t have an issue.

He said, he’s hopeful the area can be transformed into multilevel apartment housing.

“The more residents we have in this space and in our downtown, that’s going to attract other retail, restaurants, and business activity,” he said. “Those are all the things that make a vibrant downtown. It takes housing to make that happen.”

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