ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A new parking lot could help out Rockford’s temporary Hard Rock Casino location, once it’s approved, but neighboring businesses worry the rush to the slots will fill their parking lots.
“When a parking lot is full, you’re going to look for the closest one next to it,” said Hoffman House owner Robert Prosser.
The Hoffman House restaurant is right across the street from Giovanni’s Restaurant and Convention Center, which is set to be transformed into a temporary location for the Hard Rock Casino while construction on the permanent site gets underway.
Prosser says when an event at Giovanni’s attracts a large crowd, customers park in his lot and walk across the street.
“My business drops 30 percent when they have a large event, over 500, over 600 (attendees),” according to Prosser.
With over 700 slot machines expected to fill Giovanni’s if the Hard Rock is awarded a license by the Illinois Gaming Board, Prosser is worried that insufficient parking could become a problem.
“Am I going to experience a 30 percent drop in business everyday, for as long as it takes them to build a permanent casino? Certainly, that’s my concern,” he said.
In a statement, Giovanni’s owner Joe Castrogiovanni says he’s looked into partnering with nearby businesses to expand parking, and says he’s researching the best solution.
A new parking lot along Ware Avenue, behind Napelton’s Auto Werks on Perrryville, was approved by Rockford City Council on Monday night.
Prosser isn’t convinced the additional lot will help, because it’s a further distance from Giovanni’s than his lot, right across the street.
“I don’t think anybody looks to that first,” he said. “So, to have remote parking is great to say, but I don’t believe that’s going to solve the problem. When they’re over at the old Clock Tower spot, great, because it won’t affect my parking. And then the argument is they’re going to bring me a lot of business. Well, I don’t know how they’re going to bring me a lot of business if people can’t access the property.”