At first glance, the unoccupied Amerock building is a major eyesore in downtown Rockford. The building has laid vacant for years.
However, Gorman and Company Inc. is aiming to make the space a sprawling Embassy Suites hotel on Rockford’s river front. Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO, John Groh believes it will be a major benefit to the city.
“This is I think a once in a lifetime, certainly a once in a generation opportunity to move a major initiative forward that would be transformational not just for downtown but for the community in ways that I don’t think that we can yet imagine,” Groh said.
The hotel would include a small conference center, which would involve a 13 million dollar contribution from the city, and nearly 20 million after interest. This expense is something Alderman Venita Hervey doesn’t believe will work in the long run, because of the source of that money.
“We can’t take it all from the redevelopment fund on the cities part,” Hervey said. “That means there’s no money left in the redevelopment fund in at least a decade for any other projects that we have,” she added.
Mary Swiec A 12 year Rockford resident also believes it won’t improve the downtown district. “I really don’t think it’s going to be that great of a success,” Sweic said. “You look around the airport and see buildings and hotels that have closed,” she added.
Groh however, believes that in order for the Rockford economy and its downtown to prosper, a hotel and conference center is the key.
“We are not going to be able to move our community forward as quickly or as aggressively as we want to and be as successful as we should be, without having a marquee hotel property in our downtown like the Embassy Suites project would be,” Groh said.
Rockford city council is set to vote Monday night on whether the hotel and conference center will be a reality.