“We need to really equalize the opportunities for all residents and all neighborhoods,” said Ron Clewer, CEO of the Rockford Housing Authority about The Grove At Keith Creek housing development on South New Towne Drive.
The development has made significant progress: 10 of the 49 units have already been completed.
“It’s not only quality bricks and mortar,” Clewer said. “There are quality people who are going to move there, who want nothing more than an opportunity to be in a neighborhood where people love and care about them, and they have the same opportunities that everyone else has.”
Clewer believes the location will afford families access to quality schools, jobs, and transportation that he says many of them aren’t receiving at their current residence, the Fairgrounds Valley housing development.
Residents close to the location are still are skeptical.
“(There are going to be) so many people on less than six acres of land,” said Donald Bondick, president of the New Towne Condominiums just next door. “As you can see, it’s crowded in there. It’s not a lot of open space,” he added.
Bondick has expressed that he doesn’t like that The Grove is so close to the condominiums. He said it has already caused property values in the area to drop.
“The condos have sold cheaper here. some have sold for 50% less,” Bondick said. “My friend tried to sell her house down the street and I think they took $30,000 less for it. That’s a dip,” said Brian Johnson, a resident on Orchard Avenue, a few blocks from the site.
Clewer doesn’t think there’s a link between the drop in property values in the neighborhood and The Grove.
“We’ve talked about the drop in property values in our community for a long time,” Clewer said. “I think what happens is we all live in our own world. So, if I were to analyze my own house, (there was) more than a 30% drop in property values since 2007,” he added.
Despite his feelings on the project, Bondick told Eyewitness News he will embrace the residents that move in next door to him. Construction is planned to be finished in late spring and residents will move in during the next school year.