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Loving Life at Erie Harbor Apartments

March 11th, 2013

Jim Mayer and his wife Irene invite us into their home at Erie Harbor Apartments. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
“The units at Erie Harbor are very poorly designed and overpriced… The ground floor units don’t even have a view of the river – it is blocked by a berm… Shoddy construction… The stairs creak… Tacky… Ugliest building in Rochester…” These are all comments you may have heard about the Erie Harbor Apartments external link which were officially opened last fall external link.

When comments like these were left under a recent post on RochesterSubway.com, Jim Mayer didn’t take it sitting down. He contacted me and invited me to visit his home. He and his wife Irene sold their home in Brighton and now live at Erie Harbor. I admit, after nearly a three hour visit, I left feeling a bit jealous at just how much this couple is loving life in their new digs…

That's Jim and Irene in their open dining/living room area. Windows with views of the river and downtown skyline surround the space. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
Jim and Irene are all too aware of the naysayers. “People think these are The Projects 2.0. We just want people to know that it’s not,” Irene explains. “They’re not cheap. But ‘overpriced’? Compared to what? We’ve had friends come from other cities and they’re blown away. The location is unbelievable.” Standing in their living/dining room, Irene points to the view of the river and pleads, “I mean LOOK at this.”

The view from their deck. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
It was a cold February morning even if the sun made it seem less so. But those views. Not many Rochesterians can say they have a view like this one from Jim and Irene’s deck.

Theirs is one of a handful of end-units in the complex with bonus rooms on the top level. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]Their unit works out to just over a dollar per square foot. At 2,050 square feet it costs more to rent than it would to rent an entire house in the South Wedge neighborhood. But Irene contests, “This unit is also bigger than those houses.”

And it’s one of the biggest available in the Erie Harbor complex. There are probably four other units like this one. The ones on the ends of each row are like this… with the extra little ‘pods’ on top. “The construction people called them ‘turrets external link‘,” Jim says. But Irene censors him after a bit of nervous laughter, “I believe that’s not politically correct.” “Ok.” Jim concedes. “Anyway, some of them are two bedroom, some are three.”

This is the entryway. A stairway twists its way up the center of the three-level apartment unit. Contrary to what some people have said, the stairs in this unit did not creak while I was there. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
Irene says they were not looking to move out of their Brighton home when they decided to stop in one afternoon and take a look around during an open house. “Our last kid was going to be leaving for college the next fall. And we were thinking, well, we don’t really need the Brighton schools anymore… maybe some day we might move to the city, we thought. We were thinking it would be a few years out.”

But that lighthearted tour of the unfinished apartments quickly turned into a complete lifestyle change for the couple.

Looking at the living space from the kitchen. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
The apartment had enough room for them and their kids for when they came to visit. That was important to them. And then there are the views of the river. “We had just been rediscovering the Genesee Valley Trail. We had ridden [our bikes] down to Seneca Park Zoo, and Turning Point Point. And we knew there were plans to reconnect the trail through the city. We like the Wedge. We like Cornhill.

“We said to each other, we’d feel really stupid if…” Jim pauses, and Irene completes his thought, “…if a year from now we’re ready to move and then we couldn’t find another spot like this. So we put the deposit down.”

The kitchen seemed to me the perfect size and layout – with all the right amenities. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
In the name of due-diligence, they did some quick comparison shopping. “We looked at the Lofts at Village Gate external link, which we really liked, and some other places. And we just thought, yeah but, this is on the water!”

Another view of the living space. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
Jim grew up in New York City and New Jersey. Irene is from Toronto. They both came to Rochester in the early 80′s for work. “This area reminds me of the neighborhood I lived in in Toronto. The Wedge is very much like a Toronto neighborhood with the housing on the side streets, the little main drag on South Ave… and where I lived was on a river too. With the cool urban thing down the block, and parks and bike trails out your back door — this is like a dream.”

A breakfast nook. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
Avid outdoors people? They say they are not. Irene jokes, “We’re not spandex-clad.” But these two are no slouches either. They cycle, go for runs, and they also row with the Genesee Rowing Club external link.

There are lots of little nooks & crannies in this apartment to decorate or just put extra stuff. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]“We ride our bikes to the boat house,” Jim says. “From this spot we can run up to University of Rochester, and the new pedestrian bridge, and you’re basically running through woods. You would have no idea you were any idea you were near the city. But then you go the other way and you’re a five minute walk from downtown.”

They love the fact that they don’t have to cross a street to hit the river’s bike trail. And lockers in the parking lot (which can be rented for an additional fee) keep their bikes and other equipment secure and out of the way while their not using them.

Jim and Irene also rent a bike locker in the parking lot to keep their outdoor stuff. Two bikes fit nicely. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
Breaks in the row of apartments make access to the river easy – not only for Erie Harbor residents, but for the public too.

Looking out onto the Genesee Riverway Trail from the apartment. Cross country skiers taking advantage of the conditions. Landscaping will be finished this spring. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
Jim and Irene’s apartment overlooks one of three public right-of-ways external link that connect South Avenue to the Riverway Trail. Those are thanks in large part to the lengthy negotiations with the City and the developer. The City will be finishing the last little bit of landscaping and plantings this Spring. “It’s going to be fun. The rocks are set up for river and fireworks viewing… and I think it’s going to be really nice.”

The master bedroom faces west with more awesome river views and lots of afternoon light. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
It’s worth noting that the older tower next door, The Hamilton external link, has 131 units of affordable housing and is also owned by Conifer external link. It was renovated while Erie Harbor was being constructed. But Jim and Irene point out that the two complexes are operated independently of each other.

“We can’t speak for The Hamilton,” Erie Harbor by contrast is 80 percent market rate (like their apartment) and 20 percent are subsidized for working families.

All three bedrooms are used by Jim and Irene and their kids when they visit. This one doubles as a computer room. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
“People in Rochester don’t realize how good they have it. Rents are so cheap. If this were a condo in Toronto it’d probably be two million dollars.”

Moving up the staircase to the top level. We can look straight down to the lower entryway. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
Jim was also eager to point out how accommodating Conifer has been. “We found them very easy to work with as long as we’re not asking silly things. We said we’d really like hardwood floors, and we’d be willing to pay the cost of installing them.” Conifer considered the request and said “ok.” Their decorator picked the color and it was done.

Even in the winter when the river is frozen, lots of birds and other wildlife are present. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
During the winter, Property Management plows the parking lots, the sidewalks, and they clear off the stoops. Jim says management has even honored his request to “go light” on the salt outside his apartment.

Property Management is a big plus for Jim and Irene. They've had hardwood floors installed, a ceiling fan, and batteries replaced in the smoke detectors – no problem. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
Irene says all those perks help justify the rent. “This may not be any cheaper than a house in the area, but when we owned our home, we were spending a lot of money buying mulch, or having the roof redone. Here, we know what our expenses are going to be each month. I don’t even have to buy batteries for the smoke alarms.” Irene called once to ask a question about the smoke alarms she says, “they had someone over here in ten minutes to change the batteries.” They even installed a ceiling fan for them when they asked for it.

Stairs up to the top level bonus room. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]As far as the quality of materials and construction, the stairs in this unit didn’t squeak. “Is it the highest end construction, no. The paint for example is just contractor grade, so it scuffed while we were moving in.” That’s what new construction is whether it’s a McMansion in Victor or a new apartment.

Noise isn’t typically a problem either. There’s one unit below Jim and Irene and they share a wall on one side. But they don’t hear people talking or playing music. Although they admit, when all their kids come to visit and large herds of youths are thundering up and down the stairs, their downstairs neighbors say they hear it. But everyone’s friendly and residents understand the pros and cons of apartment living.

The bonus room is kind of a fun space. It wraps around the stairwell, with a door to the top level deck on one side, and a sitting area on the other. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
I asked if they do all their shopping in the city. Jim says, “That’s the other thing. Everyone says there’s no grocery store in the city. We shop at the Abundance Co-op external link. We shop at Mise en Place external link sometimes. The farmers’ market. And when one needs to go to Wegmans, we go to Wegmans.”

Another angle of the bonus room. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
The floor plans are not conventional. It’s not a big boxy space, or a loft. When Jim and Irene first looked at the unfurnished space they thought it was too small to fit their existing furniture. As it turned out, even their dining room set fits (with all the leaves in it). But they embraced the opportunity to get rid of many of their old things. “We chose to keep some old stuff but we picked new furniture to go with the space,” Jim says. That meant for example, replacing their couch with movable chairs. And selecting more modern styles that fit with the architecture.

The apartment has 2 1/2 baths. This one is off of the master bedroom. On demand hot water is a nice convenience. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]One of things Irene likes about her new urban lifestyle is that she doesn’t need to buy three weeks worth of “stuff” at the giant BJ’s store and haul it home in the SUV. “We might decide night by night, are we going to go out to dinner tonight or cook something. So we only need to pick up enough for a couple of days.”

On the other hand, this 3 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath apartment does have a decent amount of closet space and storage – and lots of little nooks & crannies where that “stuff” can be tucked away.

Oh, and about those bathrooms, Irene says they never run out of hot water because it’s on-demand.

Okay, now were heading outside to see the shared facilities. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
Okay, now were heading outside to see the shared facilities…

Laundry room. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
In the next few photos you’ll see the laundry room, a small gym with aerobic equipment, and a GINORMOUS community room that can be shared or reserved for private get-togethers.

Gym. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
The community room also has a flat screen T.V., a little gas fireplace, a kitchen, and a huge deck wrapped around the outside…

A nice community room that can be reserved for private parties. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
And what about that style of architecture and those exterior colors that everyone seems to complain about? Is it tacky or just a matter of taste? Jim and Irene say they like the style. “It’s creative,” Jim jokes, “We think it looks a bit like a crab shack. It’s fun.” Irene continues the thought, “It feels like a beach house. I think it’s fun and different… We feel like we’re on vacation every day.”

The community room also has a flat screen T.V., a little gas fireplace, a kitchen, and a huge deck wrapped around the outside. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
“Could they have done a faux Victorian and brick looking thing, sure. Would it have been cool? Eh… maybe. But it would have been weird with this many windows, and you really need this many windows on a site like this. And I like the colors [and the modern lines]. It’s like a Mondrian painting.”

View from the deck outside the community room. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
“You can’t win for trying. People will find things they don’t like.” Jim speculates, “Maybe people would have liked this to be another version of South Avenue. But we don’t need another commercial strip here because the businesses on South Avenue are finally doing well. We need the density and the people living here” to support the businesses over there.

View from the deck outside the community room. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
Jim and Irene say they have no regrets. And I must say I believe them. Their space is very comfortable. The views of the river and downtown from their three floors are spectacular. They’re within a short walk to restaurants, shops, and transit. A bike ride on the Genesee River trail connects them to downtown, the UofR, Genesee Valley Park, and the canal trail.

The view of Erie Harbor from across the Genesee River. [PHOTO: EileenF, RocWiki]
Is it perfect? Well, you show me a perfect development and I’ll find you someone to argue with. I’m sure you won’t have to look further than the comment section below. But one thing you can’t argue with is that Jim (from NYC/Jersey) and Irene (from Toronto) are loving it. And they are talking up Rochester city living to all their friends and family.

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This entry was posted on Monday, March 11th, 2013 at 8:05 am and is filed under Interviews, Rochester News, Urban Development. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

40 Responses to “Loving Life at Erie Harbor Apartments”

  1. RocCityMaps says:

    The inside of these places look pretty awesome, as well as the location…These factors were never in doubt…But my god they still look like ugly Legos!…although compared to the half-finished children’s art project next door they look glorious

  2. Adrian says:

    I love the look of both the low-lying buildings and the taller one next to it. However my wife and I never considered moving because there was no option to buy. Paying $1500/month in rent is way different from $1500/month in mortgage.

  3. Mary says:

    What is “politically incorrect” about the term ‘turret’? It just means ‘small tower’.

  4. jtag says:

    Wow. What is this? Someone got upset about negative comments online so they show off their whole place to prove something to us? Great. You have a nice apartment. It is expensive, you don’t have to justify yourself to the Internet…

  5. @Mary, I’m not sure but I think maybe the connotations associated with war or violence? That turrets were used to fire at people (or invaders) on the ground. Not exactly a fun thought to associate with ones home I guess.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    I actually really like these…they are weird and unusual and took some time to get used to since there really is no equivalent in Rochester as to the style…but they are modern, unique and make me think of the beach. Since they are on the water…it makes sense. If I could afford it, I would seriously consider living there! It was really nice that they opened up their home so that people could see what its really like! And I get that the design isn’t for everyone…it’s ok that not everyone likes it…but art, design and architecture is subjective :)

  7. Xeiliex says:

    From what I understand and remember the “Half-finished children’s project” are actually “the projects” with a new coat of paint.

    they are still affordable housing units which is a good thing.

  8. ELF says:

    I never saw what the fuss was about. I think Erie Harbor and the Hamilton are quirky and unique.

  9. Jimmy says:

    @jtag I’m not sure why your comment is so negative. Don’t be a hater. You said “…you don’t have to justify yourself on the internet”. That’s true no doubt, but I was wondering if you could justify yourself to me as to why you are so negative on the internet.

  10. jtag says:

    I’m negative because this blog typically has really interesting pieces and photos. This seems like an ad for the apartment complex.

  11. Elizabeth says:

    @Jimmy…I wouldn’t worry about it…obviously, the couple didn’t need to open up their apartment so the public could see their home…but the fact that they were willing to give up their privacy to share their positive experience with the apt complex is a positive thing. They certainly didn’t owe anyone or anything…but I’m thankful they did. I drive by them often and wonder what they were like inside. Its nice to see an Apt Complex (if that’s what you can call it) that are not the typical ugly apt complexes that you mainly see in the suburbs.

  12. Elizabeth says:

    @jtag…to each their own. This is interesting to me. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

  13. @jtag, thanks for the compliment (I think). If you want to call this an “ad” you could certainly do that. It’s more of a testimonial though, as this hasn’t been set up or paid for or even endorsed by Conifer.

    Look, everyone here has already heard all of the negative arguments around this development. This is the other side of the story.

    Two people decided to give me a tour of their place. We had a good conversation. They let me take photos. And I decided to take my readers along for the ride. If you didn’t find it interesting that’s perfectly fine. But I figure you could have stopped reading after “Loving Life at Erie Harbor Apartments.” The title pretty much gives away the ending.

  14. Lucas says:

    Thanks for the post. I have always been curious about this place. The style is certainly not for everyone, but it beats the typical cookie-cutter stuff.
    I’m with Adrian, though. It does seem weird that they’re only for rent. And I’m still baffled that this area is able to command such high rents.

  15. Sara says:

    I think it looks amazing inside and great views. Thanks for the tour!

  16. jim says:

    I’ve heard the negatives about this place, so it is nice to see the other side. Besides we don’t want to see this place sit largely vacant and deteriorate into garbage.

    I don’t get the extreme hate for the place. Im not the biggest fan of how is situated on the site and the parking placement, but I can appreciate the architectur . Not everything can be faux classic. Well done modern can be nice, especially this with its touch of italianate styling

  17. Matthew Denker says:

    What an excellent article. Thank you. I loved these apartments when I went to tour them, and I think they are a huge boon to the neighborhood. I agree with the people who think the development isn’t perfect. The siting is questionable, and the ground floor really needs some better foliage cover to look more attractive. At the same time, the views are incomparable, the location is good, and the units have very little to no competition in the city. Rochester still lacks rentals with Viking Ranges, full hardwood floors, 12 foot ceilings, and in-unit laundry (ALTHOUGH, not only do these units have hookups and a closet for laundry, but it is properly located on the second floor where most humans take their clothes off and not in the basement or near the kitchen or mudroom like most homes). Based on the rents a place like this gets, I can only imagine what a well placed apartment building with even feistier amenities pulls down. Another note about this complex, there is a roof deck on top of the south tower that is open to all residents. Finally, here’s my photo tour of a similar unit to this one, and it ends with floor plans (also similar to this one), in case anyone is curious about how the layout works.

  18. Scott K says:

    Those colors make the place look unfinished. To me, it looks like exposed insulation or something.

    The subject gives me an excuse to ask another question. The area is called Erie Harbor, correct? Since this part of the river literally is the Rochester harbor for the Erie (Barge) Canal, whats there for boaters traveling along the canal itself? Are there any docking or fueling facilities? Are there any local eateries for boaters to go to? Inother words, can the area actually be used as a harbor? If not, it should be. The subject for a future article, I should think.

  19. Jason Haremza says:

    Re: siting. Placing the buildings back behind the parking lot is not ideal but this site had several constraints that the developer had to work around. These include:
    - A trunk sewer running along the western edge of Mount Hope that cannot be built over, preventing the buildings from being located along the street
    - The need to re-use the existing building foundations as much as possible to make the project budget work

  20. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for sharing some details Jason…

    Aesthetically, If I was living there I would also prefer being closer to the water’s edge rather then looking over a parking lot inbetween the bldg and water. It does look like some apts do overlook the parking lot side…but my guess is the rent is a little cheaper if they don’t have a river view…

  21. Joe says:

    Scott K,

    The development is built on or very near the old site of the Barge Canal Harbor. It was a transfer point between the canal, river, and railroad. Maybe thats where it got the name.

    I don’t think the east side of the river has anywhere to dock like the west side at Corn Hill has. The development doesn’t really have any commercial aspect and that area of Mt Hope doesn’t offer much either. I don’t see a large demand for docking, especially considering the rarity of boats at Corn Hill.

  22. Scott K says:

    Joe,

    Thats my point. There should be demand for dock space and boating facilities. Otherwise, whats to attract boaters to Rochester itself, rather than one of the suburban towns? On the Corn Hill side, is there a public dock, or is it just for the Sam Patch? After all, if they’re going to call this area “Erie Harbor” (which it actually IS), why not make it an actual, usable harbor? Unless they think that ugly paint scheme on the east side will scare boaters away.

  23. Elizabeth says:

    Corn Hill is a kitty corner away and has a dock…I believe it’s public (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) and there are restaurants there that could draw ppl in. A name is a name…as has been explained above, its in homage to what the area was in the past. Are you familiar to that area of Mt Hope? Although certainly walkable to South Ave, there isn’t much to do in regards to retail and restaurants. Erie Harbor is residential, not commercial.

  24. Matthew Denker says:

    @Jason – the developers made the most of a mixed situation, so we have what we have. It could have been built with even worse siting. Nothing some foliage along the street can’t help with some. Activating the east side of the street would help as well.

    @Elizabeth – None of the apartments in any of the townhouse pieces face the parking lot exclusively. I believe most of the units facing the parking lot in the southernmost “tower” are the 20% affordable units (all of which are in that building).

    @Scott – Does induced demand work for boating like it does for driving? Unknown, but an interesting question. There are facilities with tiedowns and electric for boats on the west side of the river at Corn Hill Landing. There are similar facilities at Brooks Landing up river, and then others along the canal. The idea of a water taxi to UofR has been floated, but it is unlikely such a venture could be profitable. I will consider an article on the economics of such a thing one of these days. The east side of the river lacks the amenities of Corn Hill Landing, but I believe the final planned redevelopment site on the east side will be denser and will possibly have boating facilities. Information here: http://www.cityofrochester.gov/property.aspx?id=8589944948

  25. Mittens says:

    Beautiful. It would be a dream of mine to live here.

  26. Scott K says:

    @Matthew-I don’t know, but it might. I guess one thing I should have suggested would be to put in some dock space on the east side, and make it available to the residents there. This might attract even more tenants (how full is the complex, anyway?), and give them another amenity to enjoy. Jim and Irene already love it there, imagine if they had a boat, too. A cruising vacation along the canal, available directly from their doorstep.

    Having a private marina there might also attract other development. How about another location for Mid Lakes Navigation to rent Lockmaster boats from? I know, more investment money and so forth, but worth considering.

    Also, I know the name is an homage to the past use there, but, why not continue to actually use the harbor? The idea of a water taxi there is new to me, but I’m not si sure that would be profitable, either. Sounds almost like the fast ferry in miniature.

  27. Matthew Denker says:

    My understanding is that the complex is completely rented out. Most of it before it was even finished. There’s a real hunger for this kind of product, and very few avenues to fill it. As for the marina on this side, I think it’s a logistics issue. Theoretically, this development does not front the river (and 151 Mt. Hope would not either). The river’s edge is actually part of the park(s) in the area, and publicly owned, whereas on the west side, the Corn Hill Landing development actually goes all the way to the water. It would require a serious deal with the city to build a marina, and even then, I don’t think it would be private. Boating is a VERY expensive hobby, though, and because of the limited size of the river, a motorsport (you won’t be sailing here). That makes it somewhat less inclusive than I think it should be for the area, but I can definitely see the appeal. I actually think that since there are no longer commercial uses happening on the river here, building a low but attractive footbridge from Corn Hill (possibly from South Plymouth to Comfort St.) would be an awesome connection between the neighborhoods. Even something that starts north of the docks at Corn Hill landing would be good, and would shorten the walk time between the two neighborhoods significantly (truthfully, a pedestrian connection with the 490 bridge would have been nice, but it’s too late for that).

  28. Jason Haremza says:

    Re: Pedestrians on the Douglass-Anthony Bridge. The City tried hard for a ped/bike crossing as part of that project. New York State Dept. of Transportation shot it down.

  29. mdenker says:

    @Jason – I can believe that. State DOTs are the worst. Would the city be open to one being built like that Millennium Bridge in London with 151 Mt. Hope?

  30. Scott K says:

    Completely rented out, before it was even finished? Well, I guess that says a lot for the place, regardless of what the rest of us think of it’s looks.

    A footbridge would be nice. The walk my son and I did, just from the new park near the south portal, over to a spot just north of the 490 bridge, was long enough.

    I also wondered what a small marina in an excavated basin would look like, but I don’t see anywhere to put one, other than in the Gateway park. Another logistical and financial nightmare. Still, it would be nice to find a way to draw passing boaters up to the city, and give locals a true “home port” of their own. Hmm, I wonder if Time Warner’s south parking lot really needs to be that big…

  31. Jason Haremza says:

    @Matt, yes, the city is very open to a pedestrian bridge between Corn Hill and the South Wedge. I believe the recent Corn Hill Charrette also called for such a bridge. Funding it is, as is so often the case, the big hurdle.

    Personally, I’ve wondered about the feasibility of a floating bridge between the two points. There’s already that row of floating buoys just south of the Douglass-Anthony Bridge to keep boats from going over the Court Street Dam. Maybe a floating bike-ped pathway could serve the same purpose.

  32. Matthew Denker says:

    I just did a little reading on floating spans, and I think it’s incredibly feasible. The only project that is remotely like this in the US is the Eastbank Esplanade in Portland OR. I’m trying to find budget documents, because the overall number of $30 million includes a million different things. $10 was apparently for a loosely related bridge project. That caps this part of the project at $20m. Since the entire project was 1.5 miles (or 7,920 ft), but the floating bridge was 1,200 ft, we could get a REALLY rough cost of $2525/ft. The Rochester bridge would be approximately 420ft, or One MEELION dollars. That’s not so crazy. It’s only $5 from every man, woman, and child in Rochester. We should try kickstarting it.

  33. Joe says:

    I had no idea the city was looking to do an RFP for 151 Mt Hope that could be interesting.

    I wonder what amount of boat traffic our portion of the canal gets. It would be a nice connection between Corn Hill/The SW and the canal town ‘burbs. The Canal trail and the river trail serve as bike highway for travel to and from the city out to Pittsford and points between.

    I doesn’t seem like some floating docks would be terribly expensive to put in.

    I really like the pedestrian bridge idea. It is hard for pedestrians/bikes as Ford St and Court St are the only two crossings for someone going from Corn Hill to the South Wedge.

    There really is a lot of potential for development, especially if some Time Warner would be able to shed some parking lot. Might even have a spill over into PLEX which has had its share of troubles, but seems to be holding on. Sandwiched between Corn Hill and the ever expanding U of R, it has a lot of potential. It’d be nice for us to finally start embracing the river that runs down the middle of the city.

  34. Jim Mayer says:

    I think that a pedestrian bridge could be very cool, but I’m not a fan of a floating bridge. There are a couple of problems:

    (1) A LOT of debris washes down the Genesee. I see fully grown trees float down regularly. Eventually they end up on the mud flats or hang up on the dam.

    (2) The Sam Patch and Mary Jemison (http://samandmary.org/index.php/take-a-cruise) stop at Corn Hill landing. Any floating bridge would need to be well north of the docking area, which would put it right next to the Freddie-Sue bridge. I think it would visually conflict with the bridge and, more significantly, would be noisy and unpleasant to cross.

    (3) A bridge north of Corn Hill landing is quite close to the Court Street bridge. I’d rather see a pedestrian bridge that splits the difference between the Ford and Court street bridges.

    After spending some quality time with Google Maps, I think that a location somewhere between Hamilton and Alexander on the east side, and the southern end of Corn Hill Landing on the west side would flow the best. I sketched two possibilities on a map (http://goo.gl/maps/RcuFl) along with the Erie Harbor rights of way.

    Why between Hamilton and Alexander? A couple of reasons:

    (1) I think it is important to have the bridge end somewhere “interesting” on at least one side. Corn Hill Landing is a clear destination point, so having the bridge connect to part of that makes a lot of sense.

    (2) Having the bridge come in towards the middle of Corn Hill Landing would break up the boating and fishing area, and would interfere with views from the existing restaurants and apartments.

    (3) There is a light at Alexander and Mt. Hope.

    (4) The next light is at Averill Ave. Averill Ave. is right at the main entrance to the river through Erie Harbor, but that area has been very carefully landscaped by the city (http://www.cityofrochester.gov/WorkArea/linkit.aspx?LinkIdentifier=id&ItemID=8589950520). Any bridge should be sited so as to enhance, not detract, from the existing work and plans.

    Cost wise, I noticed that a new pedestrian bridge was put in across the Genesee in Mt. Morris just a year or two ago (http://thelcn.com/2012/06/07/over-the-river-and-through-the-woods/). That was a 450 foot span that used (I think) existing pilings and cost about $1.7 million. The shorter of the two bridges I drew was about 460 feet. it’s not arched, though (https://www.dot.ny.gov/divisions/engineering/environmental-analysis/repository/r4eibook.pdf), so it may not be comparable to what would be needed here.

  35. Matthew Denker says:

    Jim, an excellent analysis. I actually think the two sites you pick might even be too far south. I actually think the best alignment for a bridge would be at the base of Plymouth Ave and running to comfort st. Like so: http://goo.gl/maps/ZOw7f. Comfort St could be extended through the Parking lot. The bridge is about the same 460 ft. The issue with any alignment south of Cornhill landing, though, is the need for the span to be arched. Otherwise, boats can’t access the landing. Ignoring the accessibility issues an arched bridge creates, there also can’t be piers in the river here because it is incredibly deep at this point. That means a very expensive span would need to be built. Additionally, anything tall enough for ships to go under is liable to compete visually with the already attractive 490 bridge. I’m really torn on this one, because I think the northern crossing I propose above as a floating bridge is some what less useful, although by my calculations, this alignment makes the walk from the corner of Exchange and Troup to the corner of South and Alexander 2624 feet. Currently that same walk across the Court St. bridge would be 4725 ft and require navigating that horrible 490 underpass on South Ave. I think this alignment would still be a major boon to the neighborhood. Based on the volume of traffic from standing in the park at the north end of Corn Hill Landing, I don’t think it would be terribly unpleasant. I put that alignment on the same map linked above. In any event, this is an excellent conversation, thank you.

  36. Carl says:

    I personally think these are a nice addition to the city. Great views and a great set of apartments from Cornhill. I like the colors and the uniqueness of the buildings. Everyone is clearly entitled to their opinion and I am one of those who like this place.

  37. Jim Mayer says:

    @Matt Thanks. I enjoy how well reasoned your posts are. I agree that a span tall enough to get the Mary Jemison under will be a big structure. I also agree that a pedestrian just north of Corn Hill landing would make the river much less of a pedestrian barrier than it is today. I remain worried about the visual effect of a low bridge near the Freddie-Sue bridge. One of the things that makes that bridge attractive is it’s reflection in the water at night https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/UJViW240DrHMAjVyTRUYCDmezUH8wrylZO5W49UUZsE?feat=directlink). Wouldn’t a footbridge where you suggested break that up?

  38. Matthew Denker says:

    Jim – Thank you for the compliment. I really appreciate it.

    The interactions between a floating bridge and the reflection is definitely something to be explored. The bridge could probably be put close enough to the F-S bridge that it would actually be “underneath” the reflection. Someone better at math than I could probably work this out, but it wouldn’t be so hard to float out a line of buoys to see how they appear. Another trick would be to light the footbridge in in a way that does not interfere or even adds to the reflection of the bridge.

    These are all excellent things to consider if the idea of building such a connection advances.

  39. Jason Haremza says:

    @Matt: how deep is the river? I was assuming it was the same as the canal… 10-12 feet. I know they have to periodically dredge the west side near Corn Hill Landing, but maybe the middle of the river is quite deep. I’m curious.

    I’ve always thought that the “pool” created by the Court Street Dam, running south to Ford Street, has the potential to be one of the most delightfully urban stretches of the river. It’s too bad Erie Harbor had to stick to the existing foundations and that the park there is so wide… I feel this stretch of the river would be really cool if the buildings were closer to the water and taller, giving the space a more enclosed, urban feel.


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