The Rockford Housing Authority and a Wisconsin developer officially break ground on a controversial low-income housing project on the city’s east side.
They’re calling it The Grove at Keith Creek and hope it will provide a fresh start for residents of the Fairgrounds Valley housing project, some of whom will be relocated to the new development.
“We’re shedding the ‘New Towne’ and moving towards ‘The Grove’ as a future and a future platform for opportunity,” said RHA CEO Ron Clewer.
Its been a long road and Gary Gorman, CEO of Gorman and Company, the developer partnering on the project, is excited to see this day arrive.
“I want to have this be part of a macro effort to de-concentrate low-income housing, [which] is one of the mayor’s initiatives,” said Gorman. “We’re the executing partner. We want to help Mayor Morrissey and the rest of the staff get that done.”
But, getting to this point was anything but smooth sailing.
Current residents of the South New Towne Drive neighborhood protested, coupled with strong objections by city council members to the secrecy that surrounded the process. But, Clewer believes it’s been worth it to get to this day.
“It really is exciting,” said Clewer. “I wouldn’t change anything in my effort, my role, the Housing Authority’s role in advancing this.”
One of the messages echoed by many speakers at the ceremony is that they intend on being good neighbors and a part of the community.
“The most important thing is improving lives of the residents,” said Gorman. “I want to stress that we fully intend to be good neighbors here despite all the concerns and fears.”
Construction is expected to be completed by fall of 2017.