The project will use more than $5 in state funds to clean up five ugly sites along the Rock River.
The former Barber-Colman factory will become an office and residential area called the Barber-Colman village. An indoor/outdoor whitewater park is scheduled to replace an abandoned power plant just south of Chestnut St. The Amerock and Tapco buildings will be redeveloped. A walkway linking the main library with the Rockford Museum Campus will replace a vacant lot on the river's west bank. And a new riverwalk and marina are on tap for Madison St. Administrators say its part of their goal to draw visitors to the downtown area.
"We're looking to make sure our rules on a daily basis reflect what our vision is long-term, bringing back our riverfronts, making them the home for arts and entertainment, recreational and residential housing opportunities," says Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey.
Backers of the redevelopment project say the program could attract businesses that normally wouldn't think of moving in to the downtown area.
"This is going to be great to help us redevelop downtown but also to bring some of those players in that may not normally come to the table,” says State Rep. Chuck Jefferson (D-Rockford)
A cleaner downtown will greet residents and visitors once the project is completed. Plans include removing abandoned buildings, utilities, and decades worth of trash. However, residents should not expect these improvements any time soon. State and local agencies must still approve all plans for the funding, which could take months.