Changes in Midtown Could Spur Business Growth

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- The city of Rockford plans to invest a million dollars into the Midtown District, a move some neighbors there see as a springboard for other changes and growth in the area.

Michael Weldon has lived in the Midtown District for more than 20 years. He says, the proposed designs to re-do 7th street have been a long time coming.

“The long term plans in this neighborhood are to bring it back and I think it just blends right in," says Weldon.

The city plans to rip out all of the street lights, replacing most of them with decorative lighting. Neighbors voted Thursday on what to do after the city takes out the outdated traffic signals on 7th Street. Weldon says of the 3 options from the city, he’s behind the plan to replace the signals with stop signs and extend some sidewalks.

"I think the way we have right now need changes. Currently what they have is the stop lights and just to replace them, that doesn’t improve the situation, not only in traffic flow but from an aesthetic standpoint,” says Weldon.

Several neighbors agree, a million dollar upgrade on 7th Street may boost the area's appeal to new businesses.

“I was amazed at the store fronts that are empty with a lot of potential to them,” says Jim Gagliano. “If they improve the streets, then maybe businesses will look at relocating or opening up another branch."

“It slowly dawned on us, what the possibilities are, which is a very energizing process," says Brad Roos, President of the Midtown District Association.

The process to make over Midtown will happen gradually over a three year period. Some neighbors aren’t sure if the street will be safe for pedestrians once the street lights are removed. That's why their votes and concerns will be presented to city engineers before a final decision is made.

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