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Development on the North End

(RRStar, Dec 17, 2014, Chuck Sweeny)-For a quarter-century, the North Main and Auburn business district, once a thriving commercial hub of the North End, died a bitter, slow death. It wasn’t so much that market conditions changed there, but because of the intersection itself. I don’t know all the politics involved, but for years, no one in authority at the state or local level was able or willing to decide what to do to improve the intersection to speed the traffic flow. Business owners did not know what side of the street was going to be demolished for the longest time. So, they didn’t invest there. One by one, they closed.


Finally, a roundabout was built for $10 million. It opened in the fall of 2013 and is gaining acceptance. The landscaping is pretty and there are many attractive street lights. The big flag in the middle provides just the right touch to what’s now called Veterans Memorial Circle.


Because Rockfordians are not familiar with roundabouts, (Wisconsin is installing them everywhere) there have been many fender benders in the roundabout, about seven a month according to an Oct. 27 report by WIFR-TV 23, but people are gradually getting to know how to negotiate it. Hint: slow down and follow the direction arrows painted in the approach lanes. Yield to traffic already in the roundabout. Oh, and there is no right turn on red, because THERE ARE NO TRAFFIC LIGHTS!


Now that the intersection won’t be tinkered with for the foreseeable future, businesses are becoming interested in the area again. The city is, in fact, considering two competing proposals to start the hoped-for renaissance.


According to Brian Leaf’s story in Tuesday’s Register Star, “First Rockford (Group) is proposing two buildings with 10,000 square feet near the roundabout ... Joseph James proposes to build a branch for Alpine Bank, which says it has 2,000 customers in the 61103 ZIP code, and move the North End Market from behind commercial buildings on the west side of North Main across the street to the lot.”

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