It has been a year and a half in the making, and Monday, Rockford planners delivered their plan for revitalizing a well-worn area of the city: the South Main Street corridor.
City staffers have been working with the community to find ways to link several major projects into a coordinated plan. The big projects include an Amtrak station, the state department of transportation widening and improving South Main, and replacing the Morgan Street Bridge. Long-range planner Jonah Katz says the main focus of the South Main Corridor Revitalization Strategy is making things better for the businesses and residents who are already there: that’s because the best asset for a community is the people who are dedicated to staying there.
Jesus Medrano’s father is one of those current South Main Street business owners. The family has concerns about whether a planned median will make it difficult for people to get in and out of their business. But Medrano supports the overall plan: he says grants to help homes and businesses improve their aesthetics will make the area much more appealing. He says any new business will be a great thing for the neighborhood, including a proposed “ethnic marketplace.”
Susan Lewandowksi is board president of the Ethnic Heritage Museum, which is located in the middle of all of the proposed development. She says it’s encouraging that so many buildings will connect with the plan by sprucing up their facades. Better roads and green spaces will help, too.
But road improvements could also spell the end of some existing businesses…at least at their current locations. A lot of buildings are already close to the roadway in this older section of town: widening Main Street could mean some will be torn down, including Al-Mar Florist and a Rockford fire station.
A public hearing on the strategic plan will be held before next Monday’s City Council meeting.
Click here to examine the plan's final draft: http://www.ci.rockford.il.us/community-economic-development/long-range-planning/corridor-plans/south-main-revitalization-strategy.aspx