Jeff Carlson from Zion Development explains work projects and Zion's history... ZION Development was founded in 1982 by members of Zion Lutheran Church. The founders were strongly influenced by two factors. The devastating recession of the late 70's and early 80's (when unemployment reached 25%) had accelerated the deterioration of the neighborhood's housing stock. During this same time, a steady influx of refugees to the Rockford area, especially from Southeast Asia, were settling in the neighborhood around the church.
ZION Development provides decent, safe, affordable housing to families with middle and lower incomes by purchasing and rehabilitating dilapidated multi-family buildings in Rockford's Mid Town District. Currently ZION manages over 100 rental units and plans to purchase and renovate more. ZION also renovates and sells single-family homes.In 1992 ZION provided leadership in forming the Seventh Street Area Development Council, a grass roots, not-for-profit planning organization working plan in the Seventh Street area. This group is now known as the Mid Town District.
During that same year, ZION purchased the building that housed Rockford's only adult bookstore, a 24/7 business that had become a major focus of prostitution and drug activity. By refusing to renew the bookstore's lease, ZION immediately eliminated the business from the neighborhood. While doing that, we successfully lobbied for a new city ordinance that effectively prevented this business from relocating anywhere else in Rockford while also preventing other businesses of a similar nature from entering the city.In 1995 ZION completed the construction of twelve brand new, highly energy-efficient townhouses. This was the neighborhood's first new residential construction in decades.