Jo and Jim are quite a remarkable pair. She is a retired school teacher. He works for a company that makes all kinds of machine parts, gauges, and valves. Together they represent nothing short of divine intervention for the City of Rochester.
See, Rochester has a ‘list’. On that list are 200 properties, residential and commercial, that have been given the death sentence. These buildings are on the City’s Demolition List—a list that is only growing. There are some 2,800 vacant structures in Rochester today. If they were all torn down not a single neighborhood would be untouched—though some neighborhoods have more than their share of deteriorating buildings. I myself pass through the northern section of Saint Paul Street everyday on my way to work. Not a day goes by that I don’t think to myself, “gosh darn I wish I could save that old building.” Or “golly gee I wish I could buy that old house and fix it up.”
Well, meet Jim and Jo. With absolutely no help from the City, the taxpayer, or Mark Zuckerberg, they have bought 6 abandoned properties from the City and have begun the monumental task of restoring them and putting them back on the tax roll. The first is on Evergreen Street (shown at left) and is now occupied by the handy couple themselves.
Now Jim and Jo have their eyes set on a storefront that could become the cornerstone of this soon-to-be revitalized urban neighborhood. 72 Conkey Avenue sits on the southeast corner of Conkey and Clifford. Built in 1879 it was quite possibly the neighborhood’s first corner grocery. Unfortunately this late-Victorian mixed-use building is on the City’s hit-list and could be demolished any day now. For Jim and Jo the loss of this corner building would mean “further loss of density, diversity, and history; and yet another blow to the vitality of yet another Rochester neighborhood.”
So Jim has put together a last-minute proposal to save 72 Conkey from the bulldozers. He estimates a personal investment of $60,000 to buy and restore the property would begin to pay back some $2,000 in monthly rents within 5 years. The alternative: Rochester would pay some $20,000 to turn the building into a weed field.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
The first priority must be to stop the demolition, since it’s already been approved and the building has been prepped (asbestos removed). But this will likely take many voices. That’s where YOU come in. Bret Garwood is the City’s Director of Projects and Real Estate. He would be the guy to pull the cord. And we believe he has the power to stop this demo. Let’s use the power of our collective voice to help Jim and Jo restore their Rochester neighborhood.
Please write to Mr. Garwood at firstname.lastname@example.org and urge him to reconsider the demolition of 72 Conkey Avenue. Or you can use the pre-written message below.
Director of Business and Housing Development
City of Rochester
Dear Mr. Garwood,
I am writing to ask you to reconsider the pending demolition of 72 Conkey Avenue in Rochester. While I understand it is late in the process, saving this structure still makes sense, for several reasons.
It is good urbanism:
It would combat crime by putting ‘eyes on the street’ at this central location in the neighborhood. It helps maintain density and diversity. Its architecture and history would preserve character and a sense of place. And the retail space offers an opportunity for economic development and walkability in the future.
It is good economics:
There is no alternative to rehabbing the property that would improve the tax assessment as much for as little expense in as little time.
It is what the neighborhood wants:
A responsible rehabber who lives and invests in the neighborhood has expressed an interest in the property to the Real Estate office and Norton Street NSC, and has prepared a proposal for your consideration. You can read the proposal at: http://tocquevillagechronicles.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/save-the-charles-h-schulz-store-built-1879/
Ibero has recently made a significant investment in infill housing in the surrounding blocks.
Project Hope, Group 14621 and Genesee Land Trust have all expressed support for redeveloping the structure.
The City of Rochester itself has supported several recent projects near this property.
[ YOU ]
UPDATE (10/20): Part II, See Part II of this story. The City used 72 Conkey for fire Dept. training 5 days after this post.
UPDATE (10/21): Part III, WHAM 13 News picks up this story…
UPDATE (10/24): Part IV, See What’s Possible at 72 Conkey…
UPDATE (11/04): Part V, 72 Conkey: The Tide May Be Turning…
Tags: Bret Garwood, City of Rochester, Clifford Avenue, Conkey Avenue, Evergreen Street, Genesee Land Trust, Ibero, Jim Fraser, Jo Dickinson, Project Hope, Rochester, Rochester NY, urban renewal, urban revitalization
This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 13th, 2010 at 10:42 pm and is filed under Rochester News, Urban Development. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.