City Beat: Downtown strolls through festivities

By Shane Nicholson
Managing Editor

Another Stroll on State has come and gone, and the reviews from downtown businesses are positive following last Saturday’s events.

“Spreading it out the way they did, it helped alleviate some pressure,” one restaurateur told the Times. “There were times last year and the first year where it felt chaotic, even overwhelming at points. We never really had that this year, and we were still just as busy through the night.”

“Once again we were delighted to see so many people coming together to celebrate the holiday season in downtown Rockford,” said Josh Albrecht of the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It is wonderful to have Stroll on State become a Rockford tradition that friends and family look forward to each year.”

One setback: the light show got started a little earlier than planned, with many patrons anticipating the need to move toward the State Street bridge closer to 7 p.m.

“I think some people who were here for the first two were still adjusting to the new layout,” said a downtown business owner. “But in the end, it was another fantastic showcase for Rockford.”

The show was certainly a sight to behold wherever visitors downtown found themselves. A round of applause to RACVB and the army of volunteers who pulled it off.

• A lot of readers were upset at our reporting last week that Friends of Ziock (FOZ) was the contact point for Gorman and Co. on the downtown hotel project. It seems that people wanted a juicier story than that to fulfill their needs for a good conspiracy.

We must apologize for not being able to provide the fodder you need to stoke the flames around New Towne higher, but facts are facts, and the fact is a small group of citizens dedicated to turning the Amerock building into something this city can be proud of solicited dozens of contractors across the country to come look at the project, including Gorman. They were one of 10 or so contractors who specialize in renovating distressed properties to reply.

FOZ themselves engaged those businesses, brought them into the city, entered into discussions around the hotel, and ultimately Gorman was the one who decided to take the project on. We should be thankful that there are independent groups in this town committed to revitalizing these historic landmarks, not searching in vain for another reason to say Rockford can’t put itself back on the map.

You can have your own opinion about whether Gorman is right for Amerock or New Towne or any other project around town, but you can’t have your own facts about how they found themselves at the helm of the hotel project to begin with.

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