Business Owners Divided on Development for Busy Rockford Intersection

By: Brad Broders
By: Brad Broders

North End Neighborhood Coffee Bar co-owner Dana Frentz loves her store in Northwest Rockford, but admits the neighborhood needs some help.

"We need revitalization. It's a depressed area. Go north, there's blight. They've put in a TIF district. We need to do something now, so we don't turn into that," Frentz said.

City planners gave their ideas on how to add business, and handle traffic, at the Main-Auburn street intersection. One alternative tossed around is to change the intersection into a circular traffic flow, or round about. It's an alternative the North End's other co-owner applauds.

"This is my neighborhood. I drive these streets every day. I want them to be safe. I want to have good traffic. I want the neighborhood to improve," Louann Lowring said.

But across Main Street, opinions are much different. Employees at North Main Tap, a 70-year-old Rockford watering hole, feel that gutting shops to make way for construction would gut the area's tradition and intimacy.

"This whole block would look ridiculous, with part of the buildings gone. They're concerned about attracting business to the area. How are you going to do that with the nice historic buildings?" Jori Salamone said.

Bartender Jori Salamone loves her neighborhood just the way it is, and says city planners are blowing the traffic problems out of proportion.

"It is nothing compared to State and Alpine. Let them build their circle out there for an experiment, because I think it's going to fail, I really do," Salamone said.

An opinion shared by some, and argued against by others, as the public debate continues on what to change or not change at all, at Main and Auburn Street.

The owners of North End Coffee Bar will have an informal discussion on Wednesday, Oct. 27 about the Main-Auburn Street development ideas.


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