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30 Responses to “Filling In: Charlotte, Part 1”

  1. Martin Edic says:

    The biggest changes you’re not mentioning are the O’Rourke bridge which reconfigured the whole River Street area and the Turning Point boardwalk which is one of the best things the City has ever done.
    Oh, and I suppose the removal of the train bridge would be an item.
    Great job with this series.

  2. Clare St says:

    Please attend the regularly scheduled Charlotte Community Association (CCA) on Monday May 5th at 7pm at the Roger Robach Community Center (Bathhouse – Ontario Beach Park), 188 Beach Ave Rochester, NY 14612. There will also be another special community meeting on Thursday May 8th.

    For more information, please refer to CCA’s webpage and/or Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Charlotte-Community-Association-CCA/174744642570637

  3. Urban Explorer says:

    Nitpicky point of order re: municipal structure in New York State. Charlotte was never a “town.” It was an unincorporated hamlet within the Town of Greece until 1869, when it was incorporated as the Village of Charlotte (still in the Town of Greece). In 1916, the Village of Charlotte was annexed by the City of Rochester.

  4. Suzanne Phillips says:

    Great article, and I especially enjoyed the photos, several of which I had not previously seen. Thank you, and I look forward to Parts II and III.

  5. Matthew Denker says:

    Urban Explorer – Thank you for the clarification. I don’t know if I’ll ever understand NYS’s municipal structure.

    Clare – FWIW, I am going to try incredibly hard to be at the June meeting. It’s on the 2nd? I suspect all three parts of this series will be published by then. Maybe we’ll all get to chat about it some.

    Martin – All good points. Hopefully everyone brings up other historical items in the comments. It was somewhat challenging what to keep in and what to leave out. Anywhere that has been around for 200+ years is bound to have a ton of history. I found some great stuff about the first ship built and launched from Charlotte, but it didn’t make the cut.

  6. Steve Tyler says:

    That home on the corner of Lake (Broadway) and Lattes isn’t just the oldest house in Charlotte, it’s also the oldest in the City of Rochester.

  7. Sue Roethel says:

    This is a great article and I look forward to the next installments in the series.

    A historical item I’d be interested in learning more about is which houses had early women’s suffragists meetings taken place with Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. They supposedly met several times in the homes of some of the wealthy people in Charlotte at the time, like Mr. Latta.

    It’s also interesting to connect today with the old namesakes of streets, etc. For instance, I grew up on Manitou Rd. in Parma (of Manitou Trolley Co.?), and spent every day in the summer of the late 1950s and early 60s driving down Latta Rd. (Samuel Latta) to Charlotte Beach in my family’s station wagon. It was a contest to see who could spot the flag at the beach first, as we drove down Lake Ave., past the lighthouse and up over the railroad bed.

    After I married, I spent many years living on the big hill on Curtis Rd. in Parma, north of Hilton. I understand from your article that Mrs. Meech, who once lived in the Latta house on Lake Ave., was the daughter of Elias Curtis, the namesake of Curtis Rd. The hill where I lived is supposedly the highest point between Rochester, Toronto, and Coburg. Mr. Curtis built a three-story house on that hill with an observatory that gave a view clear across the lake. Sadly, the house was torn down long ago, but I wonder what else is known about the Curtis and Manitou connection to Charlotte.

  8. Marcia says:

    The CCA meetings next week (May 5th & May 8th) that Clare mentioned above are very important for anyone to attend that is interested in the preservation of the land near Charlotte Beach. Yes Charlotte could use some improvements/development but not in the form of high rise towers that look like they belong at Miami Beach.

  9. Matthew Denker says:

    I feel like we should consider what Miami Beach looks like.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/3e/Miamimetroarea.jpg/800px-Miamimetroarea.jpg

    Since I doubt many Rochesterians actually know. And really, has anyone thought about when they say stuff like this? Miami Beach comes up in these examples(or Manhattan, or wherever else urbanized), because it is, potentially well known; it does evoke something.

    What does Charlotte evoke, again? Let’s work together to articulate that, because right now, if Charlotte were on-the-map enough (even to the level of Alexandria Bay or Niagara on the Lake), wouldn’t everyone be just A LITTLE self conscious of residents in other places saying, “Yes Place X could use some parking, but not in the form of lots that look like they belong in Charlotte.” In Charlotte, we’re talking about a 26 acre beach with 24 acres of parking (that is fully utilized 10 days out of the year). Is that really what we aspire to?

  10. Martin Edic says:

    That meeting is mainly going to consist of people trying to block change so they don’t have to start keeping up their properties. Walk down Lake Ave from the Bridge to the water and do a little inventory. Biker bars, convenience stores, boarded up houses, an ugly little strip mall, tattoo joints.. and parking lots. This is what we’re preserving?
    And there already are two high rise towers…it’s not like there is no precedent.
    i think there will be a compromise. I just hate to see people automatically against everything– it’s a huge problem that has held the Rochester economy back for years. Fortunately that is changing. This blog is an example!

  11. Marcia says:

    I think a Great Wolf Lodge (hotel with an indoor water park) would be a good idea for the Charlotte Beach area. I don’t think Rochester has any indoor water parks, plus it would be a great non-seasonal addition to the waterfront.

  12. Matthew Denker says:

    So I hear quite a bit about the whole indoor water park thing (I’ve heard about the idea of one for the new land to come from the inner loop fill-in). Just from the first two paragraphs of their 10-k (Great Wolf Lodge is a publicly traded company):

    We are a family entertainment resort company that provides our guests with a high quality vacation at an affordable price. We are the largest
    owner, licensor, operator and developer in North America of drive-to destination family resorts featuring indoor waterparks and other family oriented entertainment activities. Each of our resorts features approximately 300 to 600 family suites, each of which sleeps from six to ten people and includes a wet bar, microwave oven, refrigerator and dining and sitting area. We provide a full-service entertainment resort experience to our primary target customer base: families with children ranging in ages from 2 to 12 years old that live within a convenient driving distance of our resorts. Several of our resorts have significant meeting space or conference centers, allowing us to also attract groups in addition to our leisure guests. Our resorts are open year-round and provide a consistent, comfortable environment where our guests can enjoy our various amenities and activities. We operate and license resorts under our Great Wolf Lodge brand name. We have entered into licensing and management arrangements with third parties relating to the operation of resorts under the Great Wolf Lodge brand name.

    We provide our guests with a self-contained vacation experience and focus on capturing a significant portion of their total vacation
    spending. We earn revenues through the sale of rooms (which includes admission to our indoor waterpark), and other revenue-generating resort
    amenities. Each of our resorts features a combination of the following revenue-generating amenities: themed restaurants, ice cream shop and
    confectionery, full-service adult spa, kid spa, game arcade, gift shop, miniature golf, interactive game attraction, family tech center and meeting space. We also generate revenues from licensing fees, management fees and other fees with respect to our operation or development of properties owned in whole or in part by third parties.

    Is an additional drive-to destination what Charlotte needs? Ignoring the fact that they wouldn’t build in Charlotte, because their business model is predicated on being next to a highway off ramp, is a resort whose sole goal is “to capture a significant portion of total vacation spending” good for the community?

  13. Michael Hall says:

    All – Please look at Downtown Charleston, SC for a great development model.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=downtown+charleston&es_sm=93&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=D1thU42qPMyTyASuxICoDA&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAQ&biw=1440&bih=813

    It is one of the best and most successful examples of quality urban waterfront development. Historic, human scale, and absolutely beautiful. All qualities that Charlotte should strive for and that the Rochesterians should fight for.

    Mike – A Local Architectural Designer

  14. Urban Explorer says:

    Re: indoor water parks, this jumps out at me:

    “self-contained vacation experience and focus on capturing a significant portion of their total vacation spending…”

    That’s the business model of the Strong Museum…or a casino. Get ’em in and keep ’em in. How many families actually get lunch or dinner at an East End restaurant when visiting the Strong Museum? Very few. Why? The Strong keeps ’em inside with their fast food chains. Casinos have the same model.

    Why would Charlotte want a business like that? It’s not going to help revitalize the Lake Avenue business district. And indoor water parks and their associated hotels (300-600 suites) and parking structures are big and bulky. They would block the view as much or more than a couple 15 story residential buildings.

  15. Marcia says:

    I was thinking of something on a smaller scale. I don’t think all hotels with indoor water parks have 300-600 hotel suites. I’m definitely not suggesting a 13 story building. I believe I have seen hotels with indoor water parks that are about 4 stories high. Another idea I have is a splash park at or near Charlotte Beach so when families or daycare centers go there if for some reason the beach is closed to swimming the kids can still have fun! The only thing I am not in favor of is towers of private housing located on top of Charlotte Beach.

  16. Marcia says:

    Michael Hall-I agree Downtown Charleston, SC would be a great development model!

  17. Marcia says:

    I just read an idea that is too good not to share-someone over at the “Save Charlotte” FB page suggested for Charlotte “an aquarium that specializes in species of the great lakes”.

  18. Martin Edic says:

    There was talk during the ferry project of locating an Institute for the Study of Great Lakes Ecosystems (or something like that) next to the terminal. It was going to be run by SUNY Brockport. Don’t know what happened to that.

  19. Martin Edic says:

    Marcia, in our area, because of the seasons, you need housing to support the other businesses that are part of the development. You can’t do it without a residential mix. We’re not a resort and not near an interstate. Most people don’t realize that 90% of The Strong Museum of Play’s business (for example) comes from this area.
    In addition, you have the marina and those boat owners will be dying to live next to their boats.

  20. Matthew Denker says:

    So downtown Charleston is a great model if you didn’t already tear your downtown down about 100 years prior. I have been there, and it is amazing. Unfortunately, it’s REALLY hard to build hundred year old buildings again. Almost anything with this exact styling begins to get that awkward Disney pastiche. It takes some serious money to avoid that (see Superior Ink in NYC).

    In any event, nothing is being built on the beach. The idea is to build on the parking. And not even the parking abutting the beach, but the parking inland. And I hate to say it again, but there’s 24 acres of parking for a 26 acre beach. What if it was a 50 acre beach with no dedicated parking?

  21. Marcia says:

    Martin-Some condos that are 3 stories tall (like the ones in Summerville that can be seen from the Charlotte Pier), but not 13 or more stories high towers. There’s already a high rise next to Thomas’s Funeral Home on the west side of Lake Ave & it’s ugly, in my opinion.

  22. Michael Hall says:

    Martin,

    Charlotte is not downtown. It is a parking lot that is a blank slate that should be open for all new ideas and Charleston should be looked at as a ‘Model’. Not to mimic 100 year old buildings brick by brick. Take Canandaigua, Lake Placid, Penn Yan, and Saratoga for example. Their original simple planning has kept the flow of positive human interaction that brings economic stability and social pride.

    Mike

  23. Martin Edic says:

    Mike, I think we’re in total agreement. Charlotte has few existing buildings of any significance and those that are there are dilapidated. I’m certain they would be renovated as property bivalves increase.

    Marcia, please don’t cite those condos in Summerville. I grew up there and they are examples of exactly what not to do. They were built cheaply right on the beach, virtually blocking access to the Summerville Pier (which was done illegally in the sixties in defiance of zoning laws by a corrupt builder who bribed town officials). A whole block of prime beach and river access was destroyed for the public and there are no views of the water in Summerville as a result. The planned development in Charlotte is set back from the beach and river and uses height to offer great views for the residents and guests while leaving wide open access to the beach and riverfront for the public. In this case height is actually a preferable solution compared to the Morgan block that put a massive 4 story wall along the length of Lake at the site, completely blocking any views through.

  24. Martin Edic says:

    Autocorrect changed ‘values’ to ‘bivalves’! LOL

  25. Urban Explorer says:

    Maybe there should be an increase in bivalves as well…Charlotte could use a nice waterfront seafood restaurant 😉

  26. Marcia says:

    Three high rise towers in Charlotte is at least 2 too many. If all 3 are built and the condos don’t sell it will probably end up being more low cost housing in Charlotte which won’t do anything for Charlotte’s economy, in my opinion.

  27. Matthew Denker says:

    If they’re built and don’t sell, they’re much more likely to be pricey (for the area) rentals. There’s a really big spectrum between high end condos and low cost housing. at $2k/mo for a nice two bedroom unit (Erie Harbor with better finishes), you’d need a household earning $80k a year to be affordable. That’s well above the median in Charlotte right now and would bring quite a bit of fresh blood to the area. Just how wildly poor and White Charlotte is happens to be a big chunk of part 2 of this series.

  28. Patrick says:

    Matthew, exactly! Marcia’s low cost housing argument doesn’t make any sense… If the developer intends to charge for mid to high level priced units, they will need to have mid to high level appliances, fixtures, etc… If they can’t sell these and then turn it into a low rent highrise with high end appliances, sign me up!

  29. Alan says:

    I left Rochester a few years ago but I still love it and especially the lake shore. The problem with making plans for Charlotte is that the people involved will screw it up. They WILL. Their record for screwing things up is near perfect: The Midtown mess, The Ferry, the WXXI Party Zone, Irondequoit Plaza…

    People don’t understand the value of a funky beach town. But not understanding something is not a very good reason to kill it. You want to improve Charlotte, fine. Improve it, whatever that means. But any major project will be a disaster. I guarantee you it will. It has been nothing but disasters for the last few decades and it will be now.

  30. I don’t have anything against funky beach towns on their own, but this one happens to have an almost equal ratio of parking to funkiness. That’s what has to go. Although in a different sense of the word, parking is funky. But more like a foot might be funky, than a beach town.


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