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Demolition Begins On Iconic Rockford Resort

Victor Yehling/WNIJ
The entrance to the Clock Tower Convention Center, at left, was the first portion of the once-luxurious complex to be demolished Monday. The facility's eponymous clock tower at the front entrance can be seen in the background.

At the end of the first day of demolition, what used to be the entrance to the Clock Tower Convention Center is no more. Countless numbers of prom-goers and wedding celebrants and conventioneers passed through those doors over the decades.

Contractors started leveling the former landmark on East State Street at the entrance to Interstate 90 where, for decades, the Clock Tower was a sign that travelers had arrived in Rockford.

The clock faces were removed from the tower in front of the resort in May 2017, shortly after the 250-room hotel complex was sold to an investment group for nearly $3.6 million. Brent Johnson, CEO of Ringland-Johnson Construction Co. in Rockford, Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen, and Dotty’s gambling cafe chain CEO Dan Fischer are among the investors.

The Forest City Tennis Club at the south end of the parking lot and the former indoor water park, added about 12 years ago, are not scheduled for demolition.

Among the possibilities for the 21.4-acre site are a new hotel, restaurants, retail, and perhaps a casino -- if the Illinois General Assembly grants approval and the necessary permits are approved.

The resort, which opened in 1968, was owned and operated by Rockford industrialist Seth Atwood. The Atwoods sold it for $11 million in 1999, and three sales since 1999 were at increasingly lower prices. Last year, the property was condemned by the city.

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