ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The Rockford City Market has shut down E. State Street for the past two years, but that will now change thanks to a new layout for the event.
A unanimous decision from city council Tuesday night approved the new layout. The hope now is that it will benefit those visiting the market, as well as businesses in the area.
“I think it’s just great for just traffic flow, ease for consumers to get to and from all the little businesses downtown,” said Paul Sletten, owner of Abreo.
Abreo is a restaurant on E. State, the same street that had been closed in recent years during the City Market. That will not be the case any longer, however.
“You know, things got a little murky over the last few years, like the whole world did with COVID, but there are a lot of benefits of City Market,” Sletten said. “Obviously, it brings people downtown. It also creates some problems, it’s not perfect. You know, the more and more food and vending [that] was added to the market over the years, that took a hit on brick-and-mortar restaurants, there’s no doubt about that.”
Some businesses complained about the lack of accessibility during City Market hours on Friday evenings with the old layout. It is a time that is usually the busiest for businesses in the area.
“It just makes it really cumbersome, kind of hard for some people to see some businesses because they get rerouted earlier than they would, obviously, if the street was opened,” Sletten said. “You have people not making it all the way down 1st and 2nd Street because they turn on 3rd Street to take Jefferson.”
It was not just restaurants looking forward to the decision.
“It was felt by, yeah, the majority of business owners, including retail and other businesses, were in favor of State Street being open,” Sletten said.
The event is here to stay, but owners are just happy that tweaks were made.
“I think it’s a great community event and I’ve always been a supporter of it, but just wasn’t a supporter of closing down State Street,” Sletten said.
City Market begins on May 19 and will run every Friday through September 29.