Rockford officials target commercial blight - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Rockford officials target commercial blight

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ROCKFORD (WREX) -

Driving through Rockford, you might start to notice some changes this spring. City officials say they're ramping up efforts to clean up the city's major corridors.

"We're looking at abandoned business signs, temporary banners, abandoned vehicles, blighted vehicles, things like that and we're actually taking an approach to get those remedied and work on beautification," said Neighborhood Standards Supervisor Robert Wilhelmi. 

While the city's tackled blighted properties in the past, this effort focuses specifically on commercial areas around Rockford's busiest roads.

"Those are the entryways to our community. To see our staff going out there being so dedicated and making sure this blight is taken care of is critical," said Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara.

Since January, code enforcement officials have identified 281 cases of commercial blight in Rockford. 

One specific location they city's looking at is a building at the corner of Walnut and Kishwaukee. Officials acquired the property earlier this year and say they plan to tear the building down and make way for either development or parking.

"There's been a lot of areas that have been left alone over the years, so there are definitely areas we are targeting for redevelopment," said Wilhelmi.

One of those areas in Alderwoman Venita Hervey's ward, who says she on board with the idea.

"Our neighborhoods are old, we're lower-income, we don't have a lot of the amenities, but the amount of pride that people take and recognize in our neighborhoods is what keeps me going," said Hervey.

So far, the city says its taken care of about half of those cases and will continue to search for new cases of blight.

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