ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Two years ago the Schnucks on Rockton Avenue in Rockford closed its doors. Ever since, the people nearby haven’t had a store within walking distance.
Rockford city leaders are working to change that by putting a store in the now vacant building. 9th Ward Alderman Bill Rose says nearby residents don’t want to settle for anything less.
“They want a full fledged shopping center that they can shop at and feel safe at and hopefully that’s what they’ll be getting,” explained Ald. Rose.
The former Schnucks grocery store location has stood vacant since the summer of 2018. Rockford city council members are working to change that by moving forward with the hopeful owners of potential grocery store ‘Rockton Street Market.’
“I think residents are excited, because you know, you have a former store that left there, and now that they have a new business moving in and it’s a really good sized space. They’re excited to see what the owners are willing to put forth and we’re hoping that it becomes a positive component of our neighborhood,” Ald. Rose added.
Rose says the need for a grocery store in the neighborhood is clear. When residents need a place to pick up milk or bread, they don’t have many options.
“In the light of the loss of Schnucks, we’ve got a virtual food desert between Main Street and Walmart, which Walmart provides certainly good service but it’s inaccessible to a great many people,” explained Stephen Bowie, the treasurer for Northwest Neighbors Inc.
At first, the idea of a local market was welcomed by faith-based community group Northwest Neighbors Inc., which works to improve neighborhoods on Rockford’s northwest side. The group changed its tune after a proposal outlined by the potential tenants stated the group has worked in retail liquor sales for nearly ten years.
“I think that when that news came out, that was what tipped off area residents that they don’t want a liquor store there,” Ald. Rose said.
“It’s not as if we’re opposed to somebody selling alcohol, that’s not what anybody’s about. We just hope, we’re just hopeful that they would be looking for something beyond that,” Bowie added.
On Monday, City Council members voted to limit the grocer’s liquor license to the sale of beer and wine only.
“The city has just been very helpful making sure that we try and keep life on the northwest side of the city as full of possibilities as possible,” Bowie said.
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