ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The City of Rockford plans to demolish a building at 810 South Main Street as part of a plan to remove blight and improve the South Main corridor.
Bryan Kruschke, a member of the Broadway Business District Association, says the move is a step in the right direction.
“I’m sure it had great history to it but it’s just an eyesore right it needs to go,” Kruschke said. “The South Main corridor is the best way to get to downtown Rockford. Number one: it looks beautiful. And number two: it’s quick. You can get there pretty easily.”
Peter Riggs has owned the building for more than 5 years and had plans to make it into a coffee shop. But, a fire broke out at the building next door in 2019, ruining his plans.
“The City was trying to figure out what to do, on how to remediate the land. I believe they told me the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the Corps of Engineers needed my property to do a remedy on the entire site, here,” he said.
Karl Frazen, director of Community in Economic Development for the City of Rockford, says the building’s demolition is a necessary step to remove blight from the area.
“We actually need to re-stabilize the bank, because it’s right on the creek. And, in order to re-stabilize it properly – and for the most efficient cost – we need to demolish 810 S. Main,” Frazen said. “So, that’s going to be a sloped, grassy area. So, right now, its’s [a] green field. It’s Green space. But, it’s certainly an improvement on how it looks today.”
Some residents say they don’t want the building to be torn down.
“It’s sad that there’s a lot of potential in this area, with these buildings that you just can’t make anymore, especially there,” said a woman named Selena. “It’s a landmark. These buildings have been there since the beginning of Rockford. That’s why the area is called Founder’s Landing.”
Others say the demolition will help make the neighborhood better.
“To me, that’s the goal, right? To make the city a comfortable place, good place for my children to stay…if they choose,” Kruschke said.
The City has not given a date for completion of the demolition project, but Franzen says he hopes it will be finished by the end of the year.