Rockford City Market, Rockford

2022 Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award for Adaptive Reuse

The expansion of the new indoor Rockford City Market involved the rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of three deteriorated interconnected historic buildings in downtown Rockford adjacent to the existing outdoor market. The nonprofit Rock River Development Partnership (RRDP), which operates the weekly market, spearheaded six years of planning and fundraising for this effort to provide year-round market space for vendors, offer an incubator kitchen for small businesses and restaurants, serve as a source of income for the organization and ultimately aid in the revitalization of downtown Rockford.

The rehabilitation consisted of substantial masonry repair and replacement, window replacement, and interior repairs with wood floor salvage and restoration. The interior houses new offices, commercial spaces and a food hall in a new atrium with a new stair, elevator and skylight to provide natural light in the deep footprint of the building and serve as a physical and visual connection to all three floors. Illuminated historic photos of the buildings and early businesses were installed in the atrium. Bricked-in openings now feature glazed garage doors that open up to the weekly outdoor market and event pavilion just across the alley.

The Rockford City Market is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. This project was funded in part using federal and state historic preservation tax credits and New Market Tax Credits (first NMTC project in Rockford).

(Photo credit: Rock River Development Partnership)


Owner: Rock River Development Partnership, Inc., Board Chairman Peter J. Provenzano

Partner: City of Rockford, Illinois, Mayor Thomas P. McNamara

Architect: Larson & Darby Group, President / Project Architect Chris Anderson

Preservation Architect and Consultant: Douglas Gilbert Architect, Inc.

Contractor: Scandroli Construction Company, President Joseph C. Scandroli

(Photo credit: Rock River Development Partnership)


Peter J. Provenzano, Rock River Development Partnership, Inc.

The Rockford City Market is the realization of a long-term goal to expand the weekly outdoor public market and thereby assist in the revitalization of downtown Rockford. The three historic buildings that make up the Indoor City Market are adjacent to the outdoor pavilion and the goal was to develop a year-round downtown anchor to complement the outdoor market’s success and enhance opportunities for small businesses and people to gather together. We wanted to increase commercial and economic activity in a blighted census tract, create more exposure for seasonal vendors and expand small business incubation by offering permanent locations for seasonal vendors and the development of a shared commercial kitchen.

The complex is also a rich part of downtown Rockford’s commercial history and the loss of these buildings would have left a literal and figurative hole in the streetscape. The three storefronts facing Madison Street on the east date from the circa 1880s and 1913. The restored spaces feature historic photos from the bicycle and motorcycle shops that were once housed in the storefronts. This way, visitors to the Indoor City Market today can see the connection to history that these buildings have, while engaging in the future of downtown Rockford.

(Photo credit: Rock River Development Partnership)


Peter J. Provenzano, Rock River Development Partnership, Inc.

Now having been open for two years, the Indoor City Market has shown itself to be a great success. It houses a permanent food hall, hosts seasonal and specialty markets and community events like trivia nights and yoga classes, provides a shared-use culinary kitchen for developing community businesses, and has proven to be a popular space for private events and weddings. The site is drawing thousands of visitors to the downtown area who have discovered new businesses and increased economic activity.

These successes also are vital to raise awareness of the potential of restoring Rockford’s large collection of historic commercial buildings, not just in downtown but also in its several historic commercial neighborhoods. To the average person before their restoration, these buildings were an eyesore worthy of demolition. The windows were boarded up, the masonry was deteriorated and the roofs were failing. To see these buildings now beautifully restored and hosting thriving businesses and activities shows the public that historic buildings can have a new life and contribute once again to the vitality of the community. We are slowly building awareness of this historic gem in the midst of our downtown, and the potential is unlimited.

(Photo credit: Rock River Development Partnership)

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