ROCKFORD (WIFR) – More voices are jumping into the conversation over whether a downtown hotel and convention center at the old Amerock building would strengthen and transform Rockford. Some are arguing that the city needs to tackle the crime around town before tackling a massive construction job.
If you build it, they will come, that’s how the friends of Ziock feel about the transformation of the former Amerock building in downtown Rockford. The group Gorman and Company is eying the space to build a $50 million hotel and convention center. Jesse Aguirre, who owns Jesse’s Place, a restaurant just steps away from the site says it’s time to value this part of the city.
“Southwest Rockford is a great community. We have a lot of different ethnic groups and I think the development is crucial for our future and our kids to be able to grow in a good environment," Aguirre said.
However, not everyone is on board with the project. Joe Castrogiovanni, the owner of Giovanni’s restaurant says he doesn’t want the city spending millions of our tax dollars to add parking for the site.
Castrogiovanni says it’s going to take more than a facelift to Transform Rockford.
“Perhaps we should consider using our tax dollars to clean up our horrendous criminal reputation and make our community a safer place to live, work and play, before we worry about cleaning up and remodeling buildings that will not add value to our community.”
Some say the project will not only add value downtown but will also spark other developers’ interest across the entire city.
“It’s a game changer, it will drive other projects we’ve had a lot of inquiries from other people, it says an awful lot if we are willing to have people invest in downtown that must mean the rest of Rockford is good to invest in as well,” said River District Assn. President, Gary Anderson.
Castrogiovanni didn’t want to go on camera today. He says he is meeting with the Mayor this weekend to discuss his objections to the development.
The Rockford City Council will vote Monday on the development agreement with Gorman to build the hotel. Aldermen have proposed taking about $2 million that would have paid to redo the Whitman Street interchange to pay for more parking around the site.