City of Rockford donates blighted lot to local church for re-use


The City of Rockford is tearing down homes one at a time in an effort to fight blight. Since 2014, the City has invested about $500,000 in taking down blighted properties, demolishing vacant homes, to improve neighborhoods.

The City of Rockford and Rockford Corridor Improvement, Inc. teamed up to bring down a blighted home on Elm Street. With a handshake and a deed in hand, the lot was donated to the church Tuesday morning.

“This is exciting to us,” Pastor Maurice West of the West Side Church of God in Christ said on Tuesday. “The expansion of our campus, but more importantly, it’s something we can do for the community, also.”

Pastor West says the donation will not only benefit the church, but the neighborhood as well.

“The kids see that house is gone, they see other houses that are gone, and they see that keeping their house up helps [to] be a legacy to my house, so I think it gives them a positive look in our neighborhood,” he said.

Mayor Tom McNamara said this is one project among many aimed at cleaning up Rockford.

“We have the decorative [boards] up, which really inspired an entire neighborhood to come together to fight that blight that has been such a nuisance on North Main,” McNamara said. “You see what we are doing by switching all our neighborhood lighting from sodium based to LED based, to improve the aesthetics and safety.”

Rockford Corridor Improvement has demolished 126 vacant homes since 2014. The non-profit focuses on properties that are considered a danger to the neighborhood.

“This is one of what we call ‘the hot spots,'” said Jamie Cassel, President. “There was a tremendous amount of blight in this area. We are proud of what we have done so far. [There’s] more work to do, but we will keep working.”

Pastor West said there’s no specific plans for the lot yet, but says he wants it to become something that the entire community can use.

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