Is Taller Really Better?

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Fridh Corporation is proposing a 14 story condo development along North Main Street. But residents worry if the neighborhood would fall with a development that tall.

This vacant lot could someday look like this. Imagine a 14 story residential high-rise in the 900 block of North Main Street. This very upscale condominium project would include 56 units. Each unit is roughly 15,000 square feet and on average each condo costs about $300,000.

John Fridh with Fridh Corporation says, "Rockford is seeing an economic revolution downtown and we sense that the time is now to provide young urban professionals a place to stay."

In order tower above the neighbors, a special use permit needs to be given. Current zoning doesn't allow development to go higher than 45 feet. These condo's would be 173 feet. 23 News has learned that the City of Rockford's Zoning Department is recommending Fridh Corporation's project to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Fridh states, "This is a green friendly project. By going taller we have a smaller footprint and we have better sightlines and landscaping."

But the grass isn't always greener on the other side, at least not for residents who live on the north side of this development.

For 32 years Margaret Gillespie has lived in the neighborhood. Gillespie says, "We feel that they need to take this building and put it downtown."

Margaret Gillespie's name is among these 250 signatures. Each name represents a belief such a tall condominium isn't the right fit next to historic residential neighborhoods.

Gillespie says, "We want something that fits with the neighborhood."

But Fridh says this project is just what the neighborhood needs and more importantly Downtown Rockford. The development might just be the catalyst to revitalize downtown Rockford's economy.

The Zoning Board of Appeals is hosting a hearing about this new residential structure. That will take place next Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Rockford City Hall in the Council Chambers. Anyone who wants to learn more or has some concerns can attend. The Zoning Board still has to approve the project and then the Rockford City Council has the final say. If that happens construction would start in 2006.