The Clock Tower Resort was once a well-known resort and conference center in Rockford, Illinois.
In 2009, the hotel underwent a total renovation and its name was changed to the Best Western Clock Tower Resort. The cost of this facelift came to several million dollars.
After its renovation, the Best Western Clock Tower Resort became the only full-service resort in northern Illinois; it offered a full range of services for families looking to have a much-needed rest.
The 30,000-square-foot hotel included 245 rooms, 17 of which were luxury suites. Rates in 2009 started at $119 per night.
Guests at the hotel had access to many amenities, such as laundry, free internet, and free parking, as well as three restaurants and two lounge areas.
There were also giftshops, a conference center, and a 50,000-square-foot fitness center that offered tennis, racketball, and basketball courts.
After the renovation, the CoCo Key Water Park indoor pool was added, covering an area of 60,000 square feet. The indoor water park had several play areas, 40-foot water slides, children’s pools, an adventure river, and a spa.
However, despite appearing to be a beautiful and well-kept location, the Winnebago County Health Department discovered various violations of safety regulations at the water park.
These included having too little chlorine in the water and not enough qualified pool staff.
Although the violations were detailed to the management team, they made no effort to correct them. As a result, the Health Department revoked the resort’s license to operate the pool in August 2015. In addition, the resort was given fines amounting to $250,000.
In December 2015, Steve Hsu, president of the company that managed the hotel, told a local newspaper that addressing the health and safety violations would involve replacing a faulty temperature control system, which would cost $200,000 and take around four months.
Although the water park was closed down, the rest of the resort continued to operate. However, a fight broke out at a private birthday party being held in the resort at the end of October 2016. The fight turned incredibly nasty and resulted in one fatality and five injuries.
The incident prompted city and fire inspectors to conduct a four-hour check of the hotel’s security. That investigation turned up various issues relating to inadequate security, including improper locks on the entrances and exits as well as faults with the fire alarm system.
A month later, the hotel closed for the winter, with signs posted around the building to say that it was going to undergo renovations to make it safer.
It was anticipated that the hotel would reopen four months later, but that never happened.
Other businesses on the resort, such as hairdressers, relied on hotel guests for their business, meaning that many were forced to close not long after.
Those few tenants who remained held out until April 2017 when power was cut off to the site and the whole area was condemned.
After that, the resort lay empty and abandoned until the owner decided to demolish the hotel in April 2018, a process which lasted until November that year. Only the water park remained standing.
Recently, Entertainment LLC became the new owner of the water park. The company’s plan for its latest acquisition includes demolishing the facility and building a Hard Rock Casino entertainment complex.
The company offered to donate all usable water park equipment to Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Rockford.
Caitlin Kepple, the spokeswomen for Six Flags America, is quoted as saying that not much of the equipment was usable but there were some items that they were interested in and she appreciated the gesture “of Hard Rock looking to be a friendly neighbor.”
Entertainment LLC’s project anticipates building a 65,000-square-foot casino, as well as a Hard Rock Cafe and a music venue with 1,600 seats.
The center will contain 1,500 slot machines, three restaurants, and a sports hall. The plans also include a future extension of the complex that would see the inclusion of a hotel with 225 rooms.
In October 2019, the Rockford City Council approved the project which is expected to cost $311 million.
However, the Illinois Gaming Board also needs to endorse the plans and approval could take up to a year. It is hoped that demolition of the water park can take place sometime in 2020.
All the photographs in this article were taken for the project Forgotten Iowa. There is a Facebook page dedicated to this project which is about photographing the lost and abandoned places of Iowa before they are gone. Check it out via this link.