Months after the Rockford City Council approved to transform the abandoned and decaying Amerock Building into a conference center and hotel, nothing has changed. All that lies near the vacant structure is a trailer of the project developer Gorman and Company.
“I believe in my heart if the money was here and on the table they would be building it,” said Rockford 10th Ward Alderman Frank Beach. “If they’re not building then it must mean there not all done yet,” he added.
Funding for the construction project is holding things up. Aldermen partially addressed that at their city council meeting Monday night by voting in favor of a partnership with the Rockford Local Development Corporation (RLDC), a not-for-profit economic development agency. The RLDC will apply for tax credits on behalf of the city. Those credits will apply to the city’s contribution for construction costs for the conference center only.
“We have to be very careful as we go forward that we don’t get stuck with a project that can’t be completed or we start building a project like the conference center without knowing the hotel is going to be done,” Beach said.
Alderman Tim Durkee was one of four aldermen who voted against the partnership. He supports a downtown hotel but still believes this project is too costly for the city. “Adding the convention center to it at the responsibility of the city of Rockford and their tax payers and using the redevelopment fund I think was a bridge too far,” Durkee said.
Alderman Bill Rose was one of the nine who voted for the partnership. He believes investing in the project ultimately will bring more tourism to downtown Rockford. “We’re really putting an investment into this saying that the city is dedicated to this project and that we really want to revitalize our downtown and west side,” Rose said.
Construction is scheduled to begin for hotel in the fall of this year. City leaders say the conference center will follow, hopefully in the second half of 2018.