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Filling In: Philosophy

March 11th, 2015

[Detail of Genesee Crossroads Planning Map [PHOTO: Monroe County Image Library]
By Matthew Denker

I’ve been writing Filling in Columns for over 2 years now (starting with this one on Exchange Street), and I’ve realized that it’s high time to have a discussion about my vision for the column, what I write, and why I write it…

As I see it, each column fulfills one of three primary goals:

  1. Present fantasy redevelopment ideas
  2. Discuss actual development projects I am constructing
  3. Review/critique proposed developments in and around Rochester

Conveniently, these three are almost mutually exclusive (except for when I get around to reviewing any of my own projects after completion or turn a fantasy development into a real one, I suppose, but neither of those things has happened yet!). So let’s take a look at each of the three topics in a little more depth.

A Tower for Rochester

1.) Present Fantasy Redevelopment Ideas

This is the bread and butter of this column right here. The original concept for it came from a great Bob Williams post on his blog a number of years ago (check it out here external link). I take a site, sometimes occupied and productive like Tops and Wegmans, or a site begging for something to be there, like midtown, and present a fantasy redevelopment. Sometimes I give some detailed numbers for costs and size and programming. Sometimes I do not. These posts, interestingly, can turn out wildly controversial when I least expect them, but that’s good, because the primary purpose of these posts is to get people to think about their built environment in its current state and its potential future.

Example Columns: Tops Plaza, A Tower for Rochester, 19-23 Berlin Street

37 Eagle Street

2.) Discuss Actual Development Projects I am Constructing

For projects I am working on building, I am attempting to be as open and honest about pitfalls, financial realities, etc. as I can be for what I write about here. Sometimes this means a little bit of a time delay between being able to do something and being able to write something. Currently there are only a few posts in this category. With any luck, I will have more to write about in the future.

Example Columns: 37 Eagle Street Pt. 1, 37 Eagle Street Pt. 2, 93 Marsh Street

933 University Ave

3.) Review/critique proposed developments in and around Rochester

Posts of this nature are designed to look (at times) critically at proposed development in the city and in many cases, point out changes that would improve the development. Sometimes these changes will be small (add a bike rack), and other times, they might be rather large (the building should be one story taller but have a setback on the third floor). While there have not been too many of these posts, I expect to have more as development warms up somewhat this year.

Example Columns: 34 King Street, 933 University, 759 Park Ave

In each of these cases I try to stay involved in the discussion about the ideas I put forward, and I greatly appreciate everyone’s participation as well. If there is anything outside of these three column types you would like to see written (or if there is ever a project you have thought about and might like help crafting a column) about, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at matt@rochestersubway.com. Thank you again, everyone, for making this column and resulting discussions what they are.

• • •

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 at 12:01 am and is filed under Opinion, 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.

10 Responses to “Filling In: Philosophy”

  1. David says:

    great article Matt. It’s apparent you have a great desire to contribute positively to Rochester and I welcome that any day any time.

  2. David – Thank you. I really hope I can do more than just write about it in the near future. Stay tuned!

  3. John says:

    What is the status of 933 University and 759 Park?

  4. My understanding is that they are floating out there still, but who knows if they will ever happen. The next two things coming down the pike are the D&C building, which will start very soon, and WedgePoint, which will also start very soon. Wedgepoint is pretty good, D&C is pretty awful. Sorry I haven’t done more formal reviews of either. Actually, there might be one of WedgePoint in the future, but there probably won’t be one of D&C. It’s a disappointment.

  5. John says:

    It’s a shame those 2 projects are stuck in limbo. Damn nimbys

    What is the plan for D&C?

  6. Joe says:

    I thought you were talking about their old building. That whole block windstream and now the D&C is an utter dissapointment.

  7. No to their old building – not really sure what the plans for that are, but yes to the disappointment.

  8. Adrian – that’s quite accurate and thank you for sharing. Unsaid in the article is that most of these policies were done to clean cities out and with more than a tinge of racism. We’re running into the same zoning buzz saw in Corn Hill at the moment. Even once that hurdle is passed, there are institutional problems on the financing side that hurt small scale development as well. Namely limited lending, especially in cities (if I had a proposal to subdivide a small farm into 6 lots for 6 large single family homes I could get financing much easier than building a 6 unit condo downtown).


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