Twelve months ago, adult business owners in Rockford were faced with tougher restrictions: shorter hours and a cleaner look. The efforts by city leaders were meant to curb illegal activity around or perhaps in the shops. But have those regulations worked?
A former adult shop on Broadway now sits dark and empty. Alderman Jeff Holt says it's a sign of brighter things ahead for the Midtown district.
"It's much quieter now, not as many people walking up and down the street intoxicated and not as many prostitutes," says the 11th Ward Alderman.
Holt says the businesses closed because of the city's crack down last year. Aldermen passed an ordinance restricting hours for adult businesses, eliminating private areas in the shops and regulating store window displays. Since then, Holt says, new opportunities for the area have sprouted.
"The projects I know about include market rate housing development along 7th Street as well as business expansion and rehabilitation of other commercial sites,” says Holt.
Business owners in the Midtown district say restrictions on adult shops have helped but they believe something else is making the streets safer.
“Our patrol officers have been very aggressive and diligent answering calls," says Broadway Business Owner Buddy Brauer.
Rockford bike patrol officers are regulars in the area. Just last night, they conducted the first night bike operation of the year. They made eleven arrests on warrants or drug offenses, issued six warnings to prostitutes for loitering and doled out four traffic citations.
"These guys do a great job. They'll take a complaint and work it and whatever it takes to resolve it they'll do it," says Deputy Chief Theo Glover of the Rockford Police Department.
Glover says the relationship the officers have with the merchants is key because while things are looking brighter in Midtown, there's still work to be done.