ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Downtown Rockford is expected to get a major facelift including new hotels, a grocery store, and steakhouse.
"The timing is pretty good right now for projects like this," Bryan Davis, from Joseph James Partners, said.
In less than a year the former Millennium Center will open as Rockford's first boutique hotel and the first of any hotels to open in downtown Rockford.
"We're trying to design it to be a really unique destination for folks coming to downtown Rockford," Davis said.
The hotel will have 47 rooms, a restaurant and bar, and outdoor patio area, plus in the winter, outdoor ice skating rink. It's expected to attract families with kids playing in tournaments across the street at the UW Health Sports Factory, but also millennials.
"They want to stay in hotels that are downtown in the action and I think these hotels are really going to help that generation," Josh Albrecht, Director of Marketing and Public Affairs for the RACVB, said.
The boutique hotel, plus the hotel expected to open in a few years in the old Amerock building are also spurring new businesses downtown.
Capital House, an urban coffee bar and bistro opens in the old Kryptonite in just a few weeks. However, it was the approval of the Amerock Hotel that got investors to agree to open a steakhouse and market.
"This will bring in that business which will bleed into the market, the steakhouse, other facilities that are down here, especially the coffee house as well as other businesses on this side of town as well as the east side," Carl Murphy, Capital House Chef, said.
The steakhouse will be in the old brewery at the corner South Main and Chestnut. Developers also have plans for a market with fresh produce, wine, beer, a deli, pizza, and prepared meals. That will be across from Capital House at West State and Main.
"All these entrepreneurs, they're getting ready for the increased traffic so that's fantastic news for the downtown," Albrecht said.
Work at the old Millennium Center has already started on the roof. It will soon have several hundred solar panels up there powering 20 to 25 percent electricity for the hotel. The facility will also have all LED, energy efficient lighting and 2 charging stations for electric vehicles. The hotel should open late this year or early next year.
The steakhouse and market projects are a little farther off into the future. They hope to start working on plans for the steakhouse by the end of the summer. Work on the market will start in June, but there's no opening date set for either.