Congratulations to the 2002 Heart of Rockford Awards recipients! Please give them your personal congratulations.
Lulu Watt deserves many thanks for her help as this years event chair. She did a wonderful job! Thanks also go out to the many volunteers who helped at the event and Sarah Skorija for writing the agenda and script and for procuring our keynote speaker, Russell Salzman. Also, many thanks to Lots A Pasta for the wonderful food and being a great host for this years awards!
The Awards Celebration was made possible by the generous contributions of the following sponsors, Presenting Sponsor: Associated Bank, Keynote Speaker Sponsor: Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Entertainment Sponsor: Miller Lite/Lorden Distributing Company, Invitation, program, sponsor sign Sponsor: Scott T. A. Saporiti and Adams Letter Services, and the Award Sponsors.
Following is a complete listing of the 2002 Heart of Rockford Award recipients:
New Business, Sponsored by Rockford Area Chamber of Commerce
The Brewhouse/Rockford Marina: The Koch family purchased the historic brewery building at 200 Prairie Street in 2000 and began the process of remodeling, landscaping, and installing a marina and convenience store. With the help of architect, Bill
Johannes, they devised a plan for the whole building. The first phase of the Marina, Boat Showroom and Shore Store was completed in 2001. Extensive renovations to the building, beautiful landscaping around the property and river, a boardwalk, 40 unique rental boat dock slips, the only gas pump on the river in Rockford, and more make this an outstanding contribution to economic growth in River District.
Commitment by a Business, Sponsored
by Missman, Stanley and Associates
New American Theater: For more than 30 years, New American Theater has been a downtown cultural icon committed to its neighborhood. The Theater has undergone many changes over the years, but has always remained committed to staying downtown. Nothing says it better than a multi-million dollar renovation that was completed in 2001 with a celebration on September 8 that also kicked off the 30th Season. Improvements were made to the lobby, box office, stage floor and curtains, and heating and air conditioning. The renovations were an outward expression of the new journey for New American Theater and its staff. It began a new and exciting season with an eccentric new look, improved services, and most importantly, a renewed spirit among the staff and friends of NAT.
Commitment by an Individual,
Sponsored by Waterside Financial Group
Sandi Kohn, Co-owner of MedicineMan, Inc. / WigWam Property, 510 E. State St.: Sandi Kohn has been a passionate advocate of downtown, River District Association, and the urban lifestyle for many years. She has spearheaded several River District events, served on the Marketing and Special Events committees, and is currently the Marketing Committee chairperson and a River District board member. As a property owner she manages three additional loft apartments in her building and a storefront salon. She actively recruited a retail business that would contribute to the atmosphere, level of activity, and economic development of the area. Kohn is a business leader in the community and the 500 block of East State St. She often rallies the other business owners to follow her lead by committing to the promotion of their neighborhood and downtown as well as beautification of their block.
Sponsored by Centre Events
Block 5 Festival 2001: Block 5 Festival is a street festival that started in 1993 featuring music and the products and services of merchants in the 500 block of East State Street. Each year the Festival has given proceeds to Aids Care Network. The Festival has created an identity for the Block 5 area and has given the business owners there an opportunity to network and partner on other promotions. 2001 was especially significant because of the increased attendance and revenue change in programming and marketing. This was the first year that Karen Elyea (Minglewood Productions) produced the event. She worked with a committee consisting of Block 5 business owners.
Sponsored by MedicineMan, Inc.
Community Foundation of Northern Illinois – Stone House: C. J. Lundberg and his family originally built the Stone House in 1915. Once slated for destruction, the Stone House was preserved through the efforts of Rockfords Historic Preservation Commission and through later efforts of Bill Keating. It is currently listed on the Illinois Historic Structures and the local historic preservation surveys. The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois purchased the building in 2000, completed a renovation in 2001 and then moved its offices into the former residence. Every attempt has been made to preserve the dignity and architectural integrity of the building.
Original details and proportions have been retained even while making it completely accessible inside and out. By restoring and renovating the Stone House property, the Foundation is reaffirming its decade-long work (through its Neighborhood Grants Program) in building strong and viable neighborhoods.
Commercial Renovation, Sponsored by Cultural Corridor Coalition
Kryptonite: Located at State and Main in the heart of River District is an example of one mans vision of a unique nightclub, Kryptonite. Owner, Chris Wachowiak, discovered this space that was empty for 16 years. The building was built in 1890 and housed the D.J. Stewart department store until 1978. This spot is part of the Stewart Square multi-use complex. Kryptonite opened in September of 2001 after an incredible renovation process that resulted in an urban contemporary decor with a strong industrial feel. Wachowiak was able to restore the original terrazzo floor, enhance the mezzanine level railing, and keep the original wallpaper behind the DJ booth along with the many other remodeling tasks. Unique decor and innovative musical programming make this one of the hottest nightspots in Rockford. Kryptonite provides an urban experience and creates a synergy with patrons venturing to nearby establishments. The addition of this dynamic nightclub is a tremendous enhancement to the Cultural Corridor and River District.
Historic Preservation Sponsored by Bradley & Bradley Architects-Engineers
Coronado Theatre: The Coronado Theatre was built in 1927 as an ornate movie palace and vaudeville house. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Illinois Register of Historic Places and City of Rockford Local Landmark. Through the leadership of C. Gordon and Mary Ann Smith, an $18.5 million renovation was completed in January 2001. Many changes were made without changing the historic integrity of the theatre. More than 200,000 people have come downtown and visited the Coronado Theatre since it reopened. Many cultural organizations call it home. Several local restaurants located in the River District have seen a direct increase in sales as a result of events held at the Coronado Theatre. It is a shining example of historic preservation. With community support (more than 5500 individuals contributed to it) and the funds raised, the renovation of a movie palace to a
state-of-the-art performing arts center was possible.
Best of the Heart of Rockford
Sponsored by Oliver, Close, Worden, Winkler and Greenwald
Millennium Fountain: The Millennium Fountain was based on an idea that was submitted as part of the Making Ideas Happen initiative developed by Rockford 2000. The contest asked for ideas that would improve the quality of life and leave a legacy for the City of Rockford. The site was chosen because it is visible from the Rock River and several other vantage points. It includes two fountains, a waterfall and pool that connect them, a footpath and bridge, lighting for nighttime viewing, benches and landscaping. It is wheelchair accessible.
The fountain, dedicated on June 26, 2001, is the property of Rockford Park District and City of Rockford. A Rockford 2000 Millennium Time Capsule is installed on the north side of the footbridge and is scheduled for opening in 25 years. The project has made a unique contribution to the landscape of downtown by adding an attraction that will be enjoyed by thousands of people in decades to come. And it is free for everyone to enjoy whether they come by car, foot or wheelchair.
Please see our Metro Section for a related Guest Column by the owner of Kryptonite, Chris Wachowiak, entitled, “Heart of Rockford Awards coverage misses mark.”