South Main Gray's Getting New Neighbors

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Oliver Emerson has a vision for what he says is an untapped resource; 26,000 cars passing by Gray's on South Main Street was enough to convince him to pursue a business venture there.

"We're so close to downtown. In order to get to downtown you've go to come down South Main St. Also, from the airport. This part of town is viable. There's a future here," said Oliver Emerson.

Emerson is working on a lease agreement with Family Dollar for an out lot next to Gray's. Owners of Harold's Chicken, Vern's Barber Shop, Subway and a local bakery also want to move into a shopping center in front of Gray's.

"If city council gets on it, it could happen right away."

City leaders hopes Gray's Foods moving in next to the vacant Barber Colman site would be the start of revival of Rockford's south side. Not much has happened since then, but Emerson believes his new development will be just what this area needs.

"When people start seeing things come to their community, they start respecting their community."

The only potential roadblock is a plan to reconstruct South Main Street. The new route would cut right through the site where Emerson wants to build.

"If we're looking at the s curve we could be looking at five to eight years out, and we can't wait that long for the development," alderman Victory Bell said.

City Council will discuss the matter on Monday.