15th and Chris endures amidst Rockford street closures

The famous restaurant has hope that they’ll persevere despite the coming challenge.
Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 10:10 AM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - James Purifoy owns 15th and Chris burger joint. He says businesses in the area are already hurting from the pandemic and previous road construction on Christina street. Now they must deal with another road project that he believes could hinder their success. The business shut down on Monday, when it was announced 15th avenue would be closed until mid-November due to construction. Purifoy says his business still hasn’t fully recovered since COVID-19 hit.

“15th and Chris used to be 11-8, and we’ve been 11-5 just because of staffing finding the right people,” he said. “It’s gonna be a distraction, it’s gonna hinder us, we’re not sure if we’re gonna be here by the time this construction is ceased.”

Even though this project is negatively affecting businesses, Mayor Tom McNamara says this road work is a necessity.

“We are spending more than 4.3 million dollars on this construction project. This construction project is the replacement of a ninety year old water main, and also the replacement of lead service lines to businesses and residences,” he said.

McNamara says this is going to improve the look of the area, and keep residents safe from lead contamination.

“This is sanitary sewer improvements, curb and gutter improvements, sidewalk improvements, and also we’re resurfacing the entire street. This project just recently started and actually has a pretty short window to get done,” McNamara said

Purifoy says he understands why the construction is needed, but believes his business is important to the neighborhood and the community, too.

“I got kids that’s around me that are coming in and doing some hard work, they’re learning. I’m trying to put them back into society and keep them out of trouble, I’m going to have to let people go,” he told 23 News.

Purifoy feels like the impacted businesses should’ve had a seat at the table when decisions on road construction in their area are made. Even though city leaders say there was ample communication with those businesses and residences, Purifoy disagrees.

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