ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- The thud of steel rings in a new era at the former Essex Wire Plant on North Main Street.
Manager William Marino may be new to the area, however, he believes he can fill some cracks.
"You walk around this area and you can't even get a cup of coffee," Marino said. "There's no Starbucks, there's no Dunkin Donuts. You have to go to Riverside to get anything like that. To get groceries, people are going into Walgreen's. It's very undeserved over here."
Marino Development has a $21 million plan to knock over the aging structure, and construct three new buildings for apartments, offices and retail. Mayor Larry Morrissey says this is just what the neighborhood needs.
"It's symbolic because I think it represents an investment from the private sector that's matching the public investment that's happening as we rebuild North Main," said Morrissey. "It's a real shot in the arm and a message that Rockford's on the way up."
Marino says this comes at a perfect time as IDOT prepares to repair North Main Street in the coming years and Rockford's mayor believes this project should drive the local economy forward.
"This is possibly the biggest single site on the North Main corridor that needed investment and the type of lift that we hope and we trust will come from this project," Morrissey said.
Marino says the three 80 unit buildings will be constructed in phases with the first being completed in 2017.
The city is currently looking into creating a TIF district for the project, which would give the developer some financial incentives.
Marino says the property will have a lot of green space as well as a bike path and dog park.