Our TownPosted by admin on 3/22/11 • Categorized as Spring 2011
Throughout the change and development in downtown Beloit in recent years, key players have championed difficult projects and kept the momentum going, even during a recession. When it comes to the development of private property, Arft says that Ken and Diane Hendricks get top billing. Their acquisition and reuse of the Fairbanks facilities (across from Riverside Park) to serve as the corporate headquarters of their company, ABC Supply, was absolutely critical, Arft says. “Without that, the rest of this wouldn’t have amounted to much.”
According to Harold “Hal” Wilde, the college’s former vice president for external affairs and current president of North Central College in Naperville, Ill., Beloit’s revitalization has had several notable champions who straddle the college/community fence. Among them are Ken Hendricks, a former college trustee, and Steve Gregg’80, who led Beloit College’s development office before becoming Beloit’s assistant city manager in 1991. Gregg passed away last May, and Hendricks died in 2008.
“Ken Hendricks really put his shoulder to the wheel in terms of giving the community momentum,” Wilde says. Both Steve Gregg at city hall and Jeff Adams at Beloit College worked very, very hard to keep the momentum going, to come up with good ideas and keep everyone at the table.”
Wilde adds that both Adams and Gregg deserve a lot of credit; leaving behind a better Beloit will always be a part of Gregg’s legacy, he says, while describing Adams as the “most important, consistent driving force in Beloit 2020 over the last 22 years.” He considers them both heroes.
“There are people who are showhorses, and there are people who are workhorses, who make things happen,” Wilde says. “Both Jeff and Steve are and were workhorses.”
For his part, Arft believes a good relationship with the college is integral to the city’s success.
“The strategic partnership that exists between the city and the college is something that wasn’t always there, and it’s paid huge dividends for the city to do things like work with the college on the science center and the Hendricks arts education building,” he says.
President Bierman likes seeing students stream down the hill from campus and into the downtown community, something they do more of since the college’s Hendricks Center for the Arts opened at the corner of Grand Avenue and Pleasant Street last fall. “The Hendricks Center is a great example of a facility that works really well for the college,” he says. “We’re beginning to develop a variety of reasons that are very organic for students to be downtown. Many students are starting to see a walk to any of these facilities as a natural part of their day.”
But he’d like to see more. “There are possibilities that we’re exploring in terms of developing the riverfront, which could be a wonderful complement to the Ironworks development on the other side of the river, as well as a complement to Riverside Park. We are a river college, but we stop 50 feet shy of actually being there.”