Acme Records manager Nate Johnson believes there's a fresh buzz brewing in downtown Rockford, a positive vibe as sweet as in the music he sells.
"I feel great about the potential here. It's just not talk. I think a lot of people are getting behind downtown Rockford, and it will be revitalized before we know it," Johnson said.
Johnson isn't alone in his optimism. In the last month alone, Acme records, Mod. Design and North End Coffee Bar set up their shops downtown. Along with other residential projects, construction crews are transforming the space above the West State Street Subway from abandoned department store to hip loft condos.
"There are people inquiring about buildings and apartments and retail businesses, and I think it's just the beginning. There will be a snowball effect with the restaurants and other businesses going in," Kyle Bevers said.
As new businesses breathe a new life and a new feel to downtown, area residents sense the city is awakening from a decades long slumber.
"Anything can help. That's about it. Anything can help in getting people excited about something," Jerry White said.
"It's good to see they're cleaning things up. I left here four years ago, and it was getting worse and worse. I came back, it's not even the same at all. Everything's changed," Rose Shelby said.
The changes hope to further a residential and retail renaissance in the heart of Forest City.