Rockford, Ill., located about a 1.5-hour drive from Chicago, had its heyday during the early 20th century, and now it’s ready for a comeback with downtown revitalizations that include the city’s first downtown convention center and hotel.
The 160-room Embassy Suites Hotel and Rockford Conference Center will be situated in the iconic abandoned factory that put the city on the map. In the early 1900s, the factory, originally dubbed Ziock, was an integral part of the city’s knitting industry, which produced half of the heavy cotton socks made in the U.S. and had close links to the creation of the popular Sock Monkey toy. The building was later purchased in the 1940s by Amerock and was used to manufacture the company’s cabinet hardware and storage products until closing in the early 2000s. Because of the building’s historic significance, the community rallied behind saving it and secured it a place on the National Register of Historic Places in 2011. Now seven years later, the downtown is being brought back to life, with almost every storefront full. Plus, the Amerock hotel project is expected to bring more than $738 million in economic activity over the next three decades. Project developer Gorman & Company has past success transforming Milwaukee’s historic Pabst Brewing Co. campus into a boutique hotel. Construction recently began on the about $87.5 million transformation of the hotel and conference center project. As a result of the project, local company KENDEV LLC already announced plans
to build Capital Foods, the city’s first urban fresh market, and Capital House, a hybrid bar, restaurant and café, nearby the downtown property.