Nestled between some of the most important cities in the Midwest, Northwest Illinois is well-connected to multiple urban areas - but it's far away enough to maintain a quiet atmosphere and relaxed quality of life. Many residents use the area's scenic byways and outdoor preserves for wildlife viewing, boating, angling and trekking across rolling landscapes and through quiet old-growth forests. Charming villages scattered throughout Carroll and Whiteside Counties are dotted with antique shops, art galleries, local coffee houses, craft breweries, and restaurants. Intimate golf courses and rural riverwalks define many of the small communities here.
Small Town v2.0
In recent years, communities throughout Northwest Illinois have made significant strides in the gentrification and revitalization of their downtown districts and river-fronts, often purchasing vacant buildings and factories to make room for modern improvements that enhance the lives of residents and visitors.
Rock Falls Brownfield Redevelopment
Rock Falls has earned EPA awards for the city’s success in cleaning up and redeveloping contaminated riverfront sites, replacing dilapidated structures with a new hotel and a transformed, welcoming riverfront. Future projects include a new park and ongoing efforts to attract new retail development to the town.
In early 2018, the City of Sterling announced a three-tiered plan to reinvent its riverfront into a recreational destination. After investing in a scenic Gateway Plaza and cleaning up a former mill site, the town is now eyeing improvements in accessibility and safety with new walkways and lighting, a multi-use trail that loops from the plaza to the riverfront, and another pathway that can be converted to an ice rink and skating ribbon, complete with a warming house. Other planned improvements include a splash pad and fire ring area, and a spacious amphitheater, paired with an abundance of green space, including a new city garden, and parking areas that would be linked with a pedestrian bridge.
Dixon Riverfront Redevelopment
Labeled ambitious and historic, Dixon has been addressing its riverfront redevelopment with a long-term plan to spur the replacement of aging structures with a major natural area perfect for economic and recreational development. Armed with an EPA grant, Dixon has been purchasing dilapidated properties with a focus on redevelopment that could include a range of options, from hotels and movie theaters to a string of small shops, as well as an extension of its bike path west along the river.
Rochelle Downtown Revelopment
The community of Rochelle has embarked on a downtown redevelopment and rebranding effort designed to attract visitors from surrounding towns with music, food and a year-round public market with events planned up to 250 days each year.
Northwest Illinois isn’t standing still. In fact, it’s poised for a new beginning.