Residents and city leaders hope the demolition of Rockford’s Clock Tower Resort will be the catalyst for a new era, not just for the property but for the city, too.
Piece by piece and brick by brick, Rockford’s iconic Clock Tower Resort has started to come down. The former Forest City staple fell on hard times in recent years, including code violations, a murder, and was eventually condemned.
“I guess, if you asked me a few years ago, I probably would have been sadder, but now that it’s been empty for a while, it’s kind of good to see it go,” said Rockford resident, Caitlyn Reiling.
Rockford’s Mayor Tom McNamara said, “I’m actually pretty excited that we are going to start a new era, filled with optimism at the entrance of our city.”
The new owners of the property plan to build a hotel on the sprawling 21-acre site. There’s also talk of new restaurants and retail shops, too.
“We hope it’ll be a family friendly space as it has been in the past,” said McNamara. “But, again, we’re just really excited. One dilapidated structure down, at the front entrance of our community.”
State Senator Dave Syverson (R-35th District) has been pushing for years to have a casino built on the Clock Tower grounds. If the state gives the green light for a casino, Syverson estimates it’ll bring up to $7 million a year for the city.
“There’s a big difference between having a standard hotel there, and having something that will draw [people] from 50 miles around,” Syverson said.
Syverson says he has a sense of urgency to get a casino built in Rockford, because Beloit has plans to build one there. If that happens, Syverson says, Rockford will never get one of its own.
He also warns that the Beloit casino proposal includes an indoor water park that could draw traffic away from Magic Waters.