ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Rockford’s historic Colman Complex is one step closer to finding new life.

A Milwaukee-based real estate redevelopment firm, J Jeffers & Company, is taking on the task of reimagining the property, and investors have released new renderings of the future development.

Many neighbors feel like this project is long overdue after the 20-plus acre lot sat vacant for decades. That is why one alderwoman said this recent progress is good for everyone.

“It is going to be a process, but again, anything is better than just sitting idle and vacant,” said 5th Ward Alderwoman Gabrielle Torina.

For Torina, it is hard to describe the excitement she feels around the future of the former Barber-Colman Complex, 1300 Rock Street. She said that the redevelopment of the old manufacturer that sits in her ward will bring light to an area of town that has lacked prosperity.

“It sort of been this structure that sat in the community that people have had to look at for all these years, and it hasn’t brought a sense of hope at all,” Torina said. “When that’s what you see in your immediate community, it makes you kind of feel as though, ‘maybe the city doesn’t think about us, we feel a little bit forgotten with regards to resources and development.’”

The plan is to turn the industrial structure into a mix-use area. There will be residential as well as commercial and retail space. This is something that residents wanted to see, according to Torina.

“It’s important that they felt part of the process, not just a big developer coming into the area and taking it over and not listening to what they had to say,” she said. “I just feel like they have done their due diligence and have really treated Rockford with a lot of dignity in this process.”

Torina said that the project will be broken into two phases.

“What’s currently happening is things are going through zoning, what they proposed to be built has to be passed, and then also there’s a completely separate thing called the development agreement and that is really going to outline the timeline of the project,” Torina said.

The alderwoman added that the project will most likely take more than five years to complete. A full breakdown of the proposal can be found here.