Rockford teams up with tollway to give East State Street gateway a fresh look

ROCKFORD (WREX) – When it comes to welcoming visitors to Rockford, East State Street is one of the busiest gateways to the region.

“We all know that curb appeal are the most important and often the longest lasting,” Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara said.

However, since the sale and demolition of Rockford’s landmark Clock Tower Resort, area leaders say the East State Street gateway hasn’t looked the same.

“Over the last couple of years, the gateway or the front porch to our community, wasn’t looking very strong. We weren’t putting our best foot forward,” CEO and President of the Rockford Area Convention and Visitor Bureau John Groh said.

That’s why with the help of the Illinois Tollway, the city and the RACVB are trying to give the area a new look.

“Change is good,” Illinois Toll Highway Authority Board chairman Bob Schillerstrom said. “The clock tower was very good for the city of Rockford for a long period of time, but its a new day, with new opportunities and I think this signifies that.”

It’s part of the RACVB’s Forest City Beautiful Initiative, bringing new trees, flowers and artwork to key parts of the community like the East State Street gateway.

“What we’re seeing here is the beginning stages of what over the next few years will grow into a welcoming, beautiful, well-landscaped, well-planned out gateway,” Groh said.

A beatification plan that the city hopes not only refreshes the East State Street area, but also inspires similar projects and partnerships around the Stateline.

“We hope to replicate this in other key gateways in the Rocfkord region,” Groh said.

A welcome change for the East State Street area as leaders look to move forward with a new vision for Rockford’s landmark gateway.

The tollway and city of Rockford are wrapping up work on the new landscaping this fall and hope the new landscaping helps inspire future development at the former Clock Tower site.

Taylor Utzig

Taylor Utzig

Reporter

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