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17 Responses to “Filling In: Old Sherwood Shoe Company Site”

  1. Jerry Wolf says:

    I bought my house in the Park Ave area in 1971 and it was after that that this factory building burned down. I can’t remember if it was an abandoned building or if it was still in operation. It was a spectacular fire. You could see the smoke for miles and it stunk really bad due to the burning leather. The Sherwood Shoe Factory produced 5,000 to 6,000 pairs of McKay brand women’s shoes daily which were sold internationally.

  2. Peter says:

    The major problem I see here is the traffic getting in and out of this location. That section of Goodman/490 is already pretty crammed and having an entrance off Goodman would be tricky. Entering on South Clinton would be better.
    A nearby change I would love to see would be a dog park on that stretch of grass across the highway from here.

  3. @Jerry, thank you for that info on the shoe factory! I wonder what happened to the company?

  4. Martin Edic says:

    How about some contemporary designs for those micro houses? We’re not required to build neo-19th century design for everything (like the dreadful train station reworking).
    Only an architect would design a restaurant without a kitchen! Lol. Nice imagining and I think this is a viable development for that spot.

  5. Douglas A. Fisher says:

    The Sherwood Shoe Factory building and site were purchased by the State of New York as land for the ill-fated Genesee Expressway, which was intended to bring I-390 from the Southern Tier directly into a busy downtown Rochester in the 1970s.

    Downtown was such a desirable destination for drivers then that a Rochester City Councilman actually suggested consideration of an I-490 toll for drivers exiting at downtown. He thought that such a toll would alleviate driver congestion while simultaneously raising revenue.

    Substantial opposition halted the Genesee Expressway project, however, which still shows vestiges today in miscellaneous vacant lots along its projected route, such as between I-490 and the one-way Broadway north of Goodman heading to South Union. The double set of circular ramps by the southern part of the inner loop was to have been part of the interchange between the Inner Loop and the Genesee Expressway.

    Instead of that direct route to downtown, drivers on I-390 headed north now have a highway split in the area of Monroe Community College, where I-390 veers to the west/left and I-590 veers to the east/right.

    The state never got to demolish its shoe factory acquisition, however, because the complex somehow mysteriously burned down first.

    Had it survived, it would have been a good candidate for loft apartments, a trend to which Rochester was not receptive for decades more.

    Karges Place, which once served the factory, and which still connects South Goodman with South Clinton, still serves as a handy short cut for those who wish to bypass the busy Goodman/Clinton intersection.

    Back in the day, the state wanted to close Karges Place, in order to use it as a staging area for roadway construction. I testified at the public meeting in favor of keeping it open, based on its usage and benefit to drivers.

    The state had no idea that the public actually used Karges Place. The state then backed off of its plan, and agreed to leave it open for public use, as it remains to this day.

  6. Debbie Adams says:

    I would also like to see a dog park in the area.

  7. kmannkoopa says:

    I live on S. Goodman about 1/2 mile further south toward Highland Park. As the second poster pointed out, traffic is a big problem here.

    In a lot of ways it is very similar to the Culver Road Armory location, but there is not nearly the land to do anything on the same scale with it.

    The city won’t allow left turns in or out of the plaza for traffic reasons, so it won’t work as a place get off 490, shop and get back on 490. There isn’t nearly the pedestrian traffic you have on Clinton in front of the building as 490 divides the neighborhood just as surely as the canal did before that. Also, there is still ample storefront on Clinton that are vacant, I’d hate the idea of adding more commercial to the mix.

    Along Broadway on the other side of 490 there are some Townhomes that seem to be doing okay judging by recent sale prices. I think a small combination market/subsidized apartment housing project would be best there. Manor Apartments off of South Ave near Highland Hospital or Tyron Estats strike me as good models — as long as they look better architecturally. Perhaps closing access from Goodman Street altogether may be the way to go here.

    I know this idea won’t be popular, I just think that it is the most sustainable development for this piece.

  8. Kevin says:

    Great ideas! A good amount of density, and Swillburg could use some more greenspace. I would consider this site a “Tipping Point” site, where it is nearby to both healthy and struggling (but not desperate) parts of the city. A well-designed development could really help tip things in the right direction. The traffic concerns could be alleviated with some one-ways and restricted lefts….traffic is not a deal breaker here. As for the “neo-19th Century design” (LOL, whenever you want to insult something, just stick “neo-” in front, even if it’s not an extreme representation of that thing) …I’d hardly say that style is ever required, in fact it’s quite rare in the past 70 years. If there is a contemporary design with a front porch that actually looks like humans (not cars) are present, then I’d welcome it. Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with an incredibly resilient and time-tested design!

  9. Gabriel Pellegrino says:

    Thanks Douglas, for mentioning the Genesee Expressway project. For those who don’t know about this, take a look at a satellite map (easy to see in Google maps) of the area and connect the dots between the 390/590 split and the curve in 490 near Goodman and Clinton. The expressway would have come up parallel to Clinton Ave. (there are still many open land areas visible along that route) and joined at that curve. Even with the full outer loop in place, we would have a 4-way interchange rather than just the split at 390/590. Remember that the eastern part of 590 and the western part of 390 were both once called NY 47 and would probably have been called 590, with the 390 instead going northward into downtown. The Ellwanger-Barry neighborhood in particular would have been bisected and split off from Swillburg, hence the large public opposition.

  10. Adrian says:

    Whenever I go past that vacant lot, I think “man that is a great piece of land.” I figured it must be a brownfield or something to remain vacant for so long.

  11. Mike Felerski says:

    I really like the idea. We need to get the visionaries together with the people who can put together the financing along with those can make it happen.

  12. Jim Fraser says:

    @Matthew Brilliant! I hope your ideas get the hearing they deserve.

    @Douglas Appreciating your seasoned perspective and worthy contributions to community-building.

    I understand the concern over increased auto traffic at this location. Wondering (while noting Matthew’s mixed uses, short blocks and high density) if more could be done on and around the site to encourage the use of transit alternatives including, of course, walking. How are things like food, entertainment and employment to be accessed from here?

  13. Jason Haremza says:

    Love it!

    According to the website, those houses cost in the range of $30 to $60k for materials. I wonder what actual construction costs would be?

    I share some of the previous concerns about over-retailing. I think retail should be concentrated on South Clinton and Monroe; still lots of infill sites to make both of those avenues stronger. I just don’t think we have enough retail tenants to fill all the square footage.

    Perhaps Goodman could be widened a bit in this section to allow for a green median and trees between the sidewalk and curb to calm the traffic and make it a more pleasant place to walk? I walk the stretch from 490 to Clinton fairly often and it’s not a nice place to be.

    Thank you Douglas for the story of the Genesee Expressway. That’s a piece of local history that deserves to be better known. Otto Henderberg was a community leader who led the fight. It really is Rochester’s own version of Jane Jacobs vs. Robert Moses.

  14. John says:

    Row housing running parallel to the off ramp with garages served by an alley fronting the off ramp. The rowhouses would all front a park, trade in the yard for a much larger common use park. The alley could run in a J shape to maxamize usage of the area. The lots on Goodman on both sides of Uhlen could be used for a small apartment building or mixed use, but I kind of agree with vacancies already on South Clinton, adding more commercial space might not be the best.

  15. kmannkoopa says:

    I like John’s ideas a lot.

    If this lot were on the other side of Clinton it would be in one of the hottest single-family real estate areas in Monroe County (Highland Park/Southwedge), perhaps owner occupied housing is the answer.

    I think 1/6 acre (7250 S.F.) lot single-family would be ideal – my 7000sf lot has a 2500sf house on it and we are happy with our yard), but the site may be too small to support anything besides row housing like the kind built on Plymouth in Cornhill.

    Canturbury/Harvard Street between Mornoe and Witnon show that you can have nice housing abutting 490, maybe it can work here.

    The problem may be finding a developer with enough to money to be patient in letting the lots/units get sold.

  16. Matthew Denker says:

    Hi all! Excellent ideas, and I shall comment more soon, but I finally found the city site for the lot. See here. http://www.cityofrochester.gov/property.aspx?id=8589944894

  17. John says:

    I’m glad someone likes my idea haha. Something like a mixed between Jones Park and that horseshoe shaped development around the 1500 block of East Ave, but without streets separating the houses from the park area. It seems like a good way to have density and make a project economically viable, while meeting people’s desire for a yard.


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