Developers discuss future of former Clock Tower site

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- An iconic part of Rockford's skyline is gone. The Clock Tower came down Wednesday, leaving a hole at the city's gateway.

Many people driving by here early this morning did a double-take as the tower fell to the ground.

Brent Johnson is one of a group of investors who purchased the Clock Tower last spring, hoping to breathe new life into the once-thriving resort.

"Today marks on one hand the end of an era of history, but history sometimes has to move on to reinvent itself. Our plan has always been to clear the site and prepare for new development. The new development could include expansion of gaming if that happens in Springfield, hotel, restaurants, tourist destination," said Johnson.

If an Illinois gaming expansion bill can pass, there could be a casino inside the hotel as well.

"Hopefully we can get a plan in place, developers will be able to come to a decision soon for what they want to put there, and that rubble will soon become an attractive development," said Democratic State Senator Steve Stadelman.

"It's an attractive part of the city, whether it's retail, entertainment, hospitality, it should be an attractive piece of property for the developer," said Republican State Senator Dave Syverson.

Johnson says if gaming can't move in, the investors will look at other options , like shopping to take over the space. But he says whatever is built will be a new welcome for people visiting Rockford.

"They're gonna be nice hotels, the casinos are part of the hotel, inside of the hotel. It's not something that's flashy and bright like something you'd see in Las Vegas. That's the entrance way into the city. That's the first impression, so it's important that it be done in a way that really sets it off," said Syverson.

That casino is something Syverson says will bring in around $3 to $5 million of revenue for the city, along with hundreds of jobs.