A ceremonial groundbreaking at the former Amerock building marks a new chapter in the history of downtown Rockford.
“It’s a great day to celebrate, for the whole community,” said former Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey at the event on Tuesday morning.
The redeveloped building will be converted into the 160-room Amerock Embassy Suites Hotel and Convention Center, which will feature two restaurants, a rooftop lounge, a swimming pool and game room.
“It brings 24/7 excitement into our downtown area,” said Mayor Tom McNamara. “It’s one of those pieces of downtown that’s been missing for several years now.”
Work on the building began months ago. The groundbreaking happened exactly one year after City Council voted in favor of redeveloping the building.
“If that didn’t happen, we certainly wouldn’t be here today, and that was a tough vote, a close vote,” Morrissey said. “What I’m really believing [is that] deep down, we want to be successful.”
Mayor Tom McNamara said the local economy should expect to see a huge jolt from the hotel. Just across the river is the UW Sports Factory, which hosts amateur tournaments. Many of the athletes who compete there often have to find a hotel on the other side of the city, or outside of Rockford completely.
McNamara says that will change. “If you look at the synergies that this project…will create, with the Sports Factory allowing families and coaches and teams to be staying, literally, right across the river from where they’re going to be competing the next day. That’s exciting.”
Gary Gorman, owner of Gorman and Company, said, “I talk to a lot of people that had low expectations for the city of Rockford, along the lines of, well, you know, a fancy hotel, a brand new conference center, is not something that fits with Rockford. I don’t buy that. Mayor Morrissey didn’t buy that. Mayor McNamara doesn’t buy that.”
The Amerock Embassy Suites Hotel and Convention Center is expected to open in the Spring of 2020.