Aldermen To Tackle Downtown Rockford Development

By Matt Rodewald

Published 10/28 2013 09:32PM

Updated 10/28 2013 10:23PM

ROCKFORD (WTVO) -- In the midst of the Fall Classic, Rockford Alderman want to use a baseball strategy to fix downtown.

"I think one of the things we can be doing is get these quick wins, getting these base hits," said 3rd Ward Alderman Tom McNamara. "I mean if we can have a building we can get out and get sold, let's do it and not always sit back and wait for the home run."

Sitting back is not sitting well with River District President Gary Anderson, who shared his frustration with Eyewitness News over a lack of development with city owned buildings downtown.

"We're a do nothing community and we need some action," Anderson told Eyewitness News last Tuesday.

Anderson lit into city council last week and that lit a fire at City Hall.

"I think the Chick (Hotel) has been vacant since when my dad was in office," McNamara said refering to his father Tom, long-time mayor in Rockford. "So I think naming these buildings and really being aggressive in getting these out is the first step."

With a budget deficit looming, selling off buildings to get property taxes would help protect the $100 million investment that Anderson says will disappear if development doesn't happen. McNamara understands Anderson's point.

"I think he's close to it," McNamara said of the $100 million figure. "I couldn't tell you if it's 100 million or 95, but if you add up the 300, the 400 block of east state, the Trust Building, the Amerock Building, Ingersoll Building, we have a lot about to happen."

As for the baseball strategy, how about a sports cliche to reboot downtown?

"I think we take it one building at a time," McNamara said.

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