ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The redevelopment of Davis Park not only has residents excited, but local businesses, too.

“It’s time that Rockford started bringing new things, and people being able to not have to go to Chicago, not have to go to Schaumburg, but be able to stay in your hometown,” said Quintisha Hannah, owner and head chef of Ambience, at 307 S Main Street.

Construction began this week on Phase One of the project, which involves the construction of a boat dock, great lawn canopy stage, restrooms, sunning beach, rain garden filter, purpose-built skatepark, splash pad, play areas, and wetlands.

A new open-air canopy stage with a great lawn will be built for concerts and live events.

“[We’re] really trying to support activating that riverfront area,” said Rockford Public Works Director Kyle Saunders. “So, we’re really, really excited for this first part of the project.”

The 7-story Lorden Building, which sat on the north side of Davis Park, has already been demolished.

Saunders believes the Davis Park renovation is an investment in the core of downtown.

“We really want this to be a strong connection to UW Sports Factory and all those downtown restaurants [and] small businesses, event venues. This is really the connector and that anchor that should tie all those together,” Saunders said. “So, we’re really excited about that.”

The boat docks along the Rock River are expected to be completed by June.

The full project is expected to be completed by fall 2024.

Hannah said she is excited to see what’s next.

“I hope that everyone is able to see that they’re trying to bring more things to Rockford and this is going to be a positive impact for everybody,” she said.