ROCKFORD – MercyRockford and the City of Rockford signed the approved annexation agreement for Mercy’s I-90 and Riverside Boulevard property Monday, paving the way for construction to begin on a new hospital and medical campus, the largest project in Rockford’s history.
“We appreciate the strong showing of support offered by Mayor Morrissey and the Aldermen who voted to approve the annexation agreement on March 21,” said Javon R. Bea, President and CEO of MercyRockford Health System in a statement.
“Our $485 million state-of-the-art Riverside Boulevard Hospital and Medical Center Campus, as well as hotel and retail developments on the property, will bring significant economic growth and viability to our region.”
“We are very excited to execute the annexation agreement and work with MercyRockford to begin groundbreaking and construction. We will continue to work together to make it happen,” said Mayor Larry Morrissey.
Bea continued, “We’re looking forward to building in Rockford. We are strongly attached to this great community. We have long looked forward to being a vital force in the health and economy of the Rockford region and its residents.”
Critics have struck out at the project saying it will leave the westside of the city with inadequate healthcare facilities. State Rep. Litesa Wallace, D-Rockford, introduced legislation last month requiring such projects be discussed through public meetings and published notices.
“Under current state law, a hospital can choose to close its doors with little review and scrutiny from those that would be affected,” Wallace said in a statement last week. “While hospitals in my district and across the state are private entities, they play an instrumental public role. In the event of a proposed closing, residents deserve to have their voices heard.”
Mercy recently threatened to back out of the project if concessions were not made by the city in various costs and fee schedules. While some concessions were made, sources in City Hall told The Times those were nothing that the council was unwilling to do in the initial stages of project planning.
Construction work has already begun at the Riverside site. MercyRockford anticipates a formal groundbreaking ceremony in May with plans to open the hospital campus in 2019.