Two houses on Rockford's West Side are torn down in an effort to revitalize the area. Neighbors say the abandoned buildings were known to house drug activity.
Neighbors say the 900 Block of Winnebago Street has gotten a facelift. They say after years of trying to get these two homes torn down, today's demolition came as a pleasant surprise.
Jean Flores could hardly believe her ears when she heard the bulldozer rev up. "I walked over and talked to the guy and said, 'are you really going to knock this down and give me a new years present,' he said yes and I was surprised and so happy."
It's a project five years in the making. Seventh Ward Alderman Dick Goral has been working to rid the neighborhood of abandoned and run down homes to bring property values back up and attract more people to the area. "There's nothing wrong with the west side. It's beautiful over here."
And neighbors are happy that there is finally something positive to talk about.
Devonna Foat lives across the street: "it makes the area look nice and people want to come by instead of hearing all the negative stuff."
Flores says the demolition means no more calls to the police department about suspicious activity around the houses. "Some people are just going there to shoot drugs. We have a lot of drug activity in the neighborhood, so they go buy their drugs and then take it across the street and use it."
Flores says the entire block is celebrating. "It's just a great, great new year's gift."
Ald. Goral is hoping the now vacant lots will be the future cite of new West Side Alive homes.