Downtown Rockford corner makes comeback

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 6:33 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - A Rockford city block is rising from the ashes after a fire leveled a historic downtown building nearly six years ago.

In 2017, a suspected arsonist set the vacant Hanley Furniture building at the corner of South Main and Chestnut streets on fire. Owner Urban Equity properties attempted to save the building but it was later deemed a total loss.

Magpie restaurant and a photography studio occupied building next door and were displaced after the fire. Both businesses chose to find other locations while UEP took control of the building and leased the restaurant to Sisters on Main, which didn’t survive the pandemic.

Quintisha Hannah grabbed the Sisters space at 307 S. Main St. last June, as UEP’s “301,” a 33-unit apartment building, was going up where Hanley stood.

Hannah has spent nine months turning the Sisters location into the semi-upscale eatery Ambiance, which is scheduled to open April 8, as tenants start moving into 301.

She says she’s bringing her business to a downtown that has grown by leaps and bounds over the last 15 years.

“Looking at where it was and where it’s at now,” Hannah said, “I am really excited for our future and everyone’s future who’s actually in the downtown area.”

Her downtown colleagues are also excited to see more action on the west side of the Rock River.

“The trend is awesome,” said barber Quincy Hughes, who works at her family’s Downtown Barbers. “I love to see new businesses come in. I would love to see more, especially on Main Street.”

The 300 block of South Main Street also includes custom woodworking company Display Link and the new Wood & Brick Tavern.