ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Another abandoned downtown building could become a new place for us to live, eat, and shop. A developer will buy the former Hanley Furniture building near the BMO Harris Bank Center. This comes after city council gave the OK to transform the former Amerock building into a more than $50 million hotel and convention center.
City attorneys say Urban Equity properties just bought the 50,000 square foot space at the corner of Main and Chestnut. The building belonged to someone who wasn’t paying property taxes and the developer told the Register Star the spot could be the perfect space for stores and restaurants on the ground floor and perhaps office and loft space above.
Urban Equity developers had a previous deal to buy it for more than $300,000 last year, however that deal fell through.
The century old building has been considered an eyesore in downtown Rockford nearly a decade. Now that it will finally see new life, something many people say they’ve been waiting for, they’re giving their own ideas for redeveloping the 5-story property.
“On the ground level, I’d like to see some retail development and on the upper floors, possibly residential,” said Rockford resident Paul Larrick.
“If you have people living downtown they might stay downtown for recreation, which would be great for nightlife for the city of Rockford.”
Local business owners say new apartments and offices could mean new customers.
“We got some wonderful restaurants, some wonderful businesses, so hopefully that will help our businesses,” said Jessie Aguirre, owner of Jessie’s Place Restaurant.
While he’s optimistic about new plans for the building next door, Jessie Aguirre says he’s not looking forward to tall of the construction, something he says may turn people away.
“I think in the remodeling stage it’s going to be a little hectic for customers to come in and out, but I think eventually we can probably figure out something.”
The Hanley building is in Alderman Linda McNeely’s ward.
“This whole area is going to look different and I’m certainly going to be proud of it and I’m certain most Rockfordians will be proud of it.”
She says she’s excited to see some of the abandoned buildings re-developed in order to revitalize Rockford.
The old Hanley building used to be a brewery and Lotsa of Pasta restaurant before it was condemned last fall.