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Signs of Progress in Irondequoit?

January 23rd, 2012

A perspective drawing of proposed 'Irondequoit Square' at Titus and Cooper.
I dropped by the Irondequoit Planning Board meeting Monday night because there were two very interesting matters on the agenda. One of those was Irondequoit Square (or I-Square) which RocSubway broke news of here last August. The other involved an all-but-forgotten friend, Chase-Pitkin…


Video…

Watch video from the Planning Board Hearing.
If you did not attend this Planning Board Hearing but are interested in what transpired, you can now watch the video external link.
Case #1: 574 Empire Blvd.(starts at 00:03:25)
Case #2: Stepping Stones / Chase Pitkin re-use (starts at 00:09:15)
Case #3: i-Square (starts at 00:19:50)

I-Square…

This Titus Avenue and Cooper Road in Irondequoit. Mike Nolan wants to redevelop these two square blocks just east of the House of Guitars.Long time Irondequoit resident Mike Nolan said he and his wife always thought something needed to be done with the area around Titus and Cooper. Rather than wait for someone else to do “something” they drew up their own plan, sought input from the community, and are now investing their own money to redevelop the two-block section of Titus between the House of Guitarsexternal link and Cam’s Pizzeriaexternal link into a new mixed-use, pedestrian oriented development. Pending the board’s approval of the site plan, new road plans, and the phase 1 building, Mr. Nolan said at the meeting, “this project will be ready to roll.”

According to Mr. Nolan, goals for this project were to:

  • Create four “traditional” corners at the Titus/Cooper intersection. Instead of the odd, double intersection currently created by Cooper, Titus, and Union Park.
  • Make all crosswalks in the vicinity safer
  • Build something for all residents (young & old) to use and enjoy
  • Design something architecturally appealing with modern amenities
  • Provide a space to host public events. New plans include an amphitheater with seating for 400 (including a grassy seating area) and a movie screen (or jumbo-tron style T.V.)
  • Focus on the education of young adults (specifically related to life-skills). The plans include space for an art gallery which would host painting or pottery classes. Plans for an after-school center would include homework assistance programs for teens. And a culinary store or bakery might host cooking classes.
  • Incorporate green technologies into the design and set an example for future developments. Specificly, Mr. Nolan mentioned waste management & recycling, use of alternative energy, electric vehicle charging stations, and rain water run-off management.

As part of the plan, Cooper Road would be extended south of Titus and Union Park would be abandoned (to be voted on Tuesday). Mr. Nolan has proposed the new extension of Cooper be named Baker Street, in honor of his long time friend Randy Baker who past away at age 37 of Leukemia leaving behind four children (who were in attendance).

In the end, the Planning Board said there are still issues that need to be resolved with parking and landscaping before the project gets preliminary approval. The board did not vote at tonight’s meeting, instead reserving a decision until a special meeting on February 13th.

Concerns over limited parking were raised by one adjacent business owner. A local resident expressed concern that additional rental apartments in the area would not be beneficial and only bring “problems”. And an attorney for the House of Guitars asked the board to make sure his client wasn’t left without vehicle access to the new Cooper Road extension. Nolan expressed confidence that “creative solutions” could be worked out for the landscaping and vehicle access to the House of Guitars. He did not seem willing to concede additional parking spaces.

Old Chase-Pitkin Store Provides
‘Room to Grow’ for Stepping Stones…

An empty Chase-Pitkin. This one is on Holt Road in Webster was reopened as a hobby shop. [FLICKr PHOTO: mandellbrad]The other item on the board’s agenda focused on an old familiar name. Chase-Pitkin external link, of course, was a home and garden chain owned by Wegman’s who shut the stores down in 2006 leaving 14 giant big box stores vacant across the Rochester region. A few of the empty stores have been re-occupied by party supply stores, or, in Pittsford’s case, torn down and replaced with new retail development. Now, Irondequoit has finally found a unique reuse for their empty Chase-Pitkin space.

Stepping Stones Learning Center external link, which primarily serves children with autism and learning disabilities, will be moving from their current location (which they say is bursting at the seams) to the now abandoned Chase-Pitkin in Irondequoit Plaza. They presented the board with modified plans to improved traffic patterns and add curbing, sidewalk extensions and new landscaping to the parking lot. The old lumber yard space would be turned into an enclosed play ground area.

The Board unanimously approved the plan (with 1 member absent). The Board stated simply after the quick vote, “An excellent reuse of the property.”

No word yet on what will become of the former St. Thomas the Apostle School external link after Stepping Stones moves out of that building on Saint Paul Boulevard.

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This entry was posted on Monday, January 23rd, 2012 at 11:59 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.

4 Responses to “Signs of Progress in Irondequoit?”

  1. UPDATE: Rumors are swirling this morning that i-Square will be put on hold or even taken off the table altogether because of irrational requests by the Irondequoit Planning Board.

    My position is this: Mike Nolan has done everything right as far as the i-Square plans go. The requests from the Planning Board to see drawings of the proposed lighting, placement of sidewalk plantings, etc. are all very typical as far as these board approvals go (not unique to Irondequoit). The drawings should be updated and resubmitted as quickly as possible to reflect those things.

    However, Mr. Nolan should HOLD THE LINE ON ANY ADDITIONAL PARKING. i-Square is a very unique development in our region precisely because it is PEDESTRIAN focused. More parking will only encourage more auto traffic. And more auto traffic will only discourage pedestrian traffic. We should not build a typical strip mall. That’s not what people have expressed so much excitement over. They want a pedestrian focused, community oriented public square. They want i-Square not another Irondequoit Plaza.

    People will find a place to park and walk an extra block if they need to. Personally, my family and I will walk or ride our bikes from our home to i-Square!

    Mike Nolan has said on his Facebook page that he and his wife will hold a press conference soon. More to come.

  2. Mittens says:

    Agree with everything you said. I-Square sounds great and I’m glad to see the town can get this right. It looks like now the suburbs are becoming more urban than the center city.

  3. Bob Williams says:

    Send Mr. Nolan into the city. I can think of dozens of places he could be infilling to enhance the pedestrian environment.

  4. UPDATE: Video from Planning Board Hearing has been posted here: http://bit.ly/xbp5HC

    Case #3 (i-Square) starts at 00:19:50
    Case #2 (Chase Pitkin re-use) starts at 00:09:15


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