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Recent commentary from the Green Party candidate for mayor made me realize that for many, there are simplistic black and white arguments regarding the value of investing in downtown versus investment in education and poverty alleviation.
The Green Party outrage over the sale of Midtown to Buckingham/Morgan developers for $2.00 is one example. I’d like to talk about how the economics work, and why I think there’s a bigger picture being overlooked…
Wow it’s been a while! This week, Let us take a look at Rochester’s best shot at an iconic piece of post-modern architecture downtown. No, not Midtown Tower. I’m talking about Midtown Plaza’s undeveloped “site 6″. As a quick refresher, here are the current plans:
The photo above was taken in January, 2011. Late last year we looked at the plans for the new public spaces at Midtown Plaza. Work on the site is now progressing quickly – and those plan drawings are becoming reality. The old Midtown buildings are gone. The new Windstream building is mostly complete. And this week, the first street curbs have been installed giving shape to the new Cortland Street. Here’s a birds-eye view of the past 30 months progress…
In 1970 a Lincoln Rochester Trust Co. advertisement in the Daily Record hailed, “Lincoln Tower… a tangible expression of our belief in the growth of Upstate New York… Through 1970 and beyond.”
The Lincoln First Tower, now called Chase Tower was completed in the summer of 1972 at a cost of $20 million. It is 398 feet tall. It contains about 356,000 square feet of office space. It is a big building. Just like the Xerox Tower, Chase Tower has roots in Seattle. John Graham and Company is an architecture firm based in Seattle…
The GardenAerial project could one day transform High Falls – Rochester’s oldest neighborhood. A landscaped pedestrian trail is planned to be built all the way around the rim of the gorge. Pre-existing structures & trails would be converted into multi-use public green spaces. And if all goes according to the vision, the entire area (in and around the gorge) could become New York’s first EcoDistrict . But this is not an initiative led by City Hall. The idea was brought to the table by two Rochester residents, and is now being advanced by their non-profit, Friends of the GardenAerial.
The first phase of the GardenAerial project will be funded in part by this this online campaign . But there’s only one week left and $6,600 still to raise. In a recent comment to RochesterSubway.com, city resident Jim Fraser explains why crowdsourced projects like this are critical to the future of our city…
As some of you may or may not know, the city has finally released a Request for Proposals (RFP) on 88 Elm Street . Up front, here’s a link to the RFP , in case you run a development company, or if you’re Larry Glazer and you’re looking for another project to work on.
In any event, here’s some background on 88 Elm St. Somehow, despite being built sometime in the 60s, no one is exactly sure when 88 Elm St. was constructed, or where, exactly, it came from. You’d think that’d be impossible in this day and age, but it’s not. In 1998, the city decided it had enough of the owners of the property not paying their taxes and they took it. All well and good, except now it’s been empty for 15 years. It’s emptier than you might think. The city spent more than a million dollars on an asbestos abatement and a new roof. The building has no electrical system, no sprinkler system, no HVAC, no plumbing. It is a completely bare 13 story tower. That’s a bit of a rarity, and it could be yours for only $360,000. Apparently that’s the market rate for the 13-story husk of a building…
The former Midtown Plaza site contained eight office buildings, an indoor shopping mall, Greyhound/Trailways bus station, and three levels of under-ground parking. Today, this nearly nine-acre, City-owned super-block is sloooowly being transformed…
On September 14, 1908 a new 300 room hotel with ballroom, several dining rooms and meeting rooms opened its doors – right smack on the same spot where Windstream (Paetec) is constructing its new building today.
The following article was published in the New York Times on Monday September 14, 1908…
Imagine it’s 1965 and your parents bring you to the big city of Rochester, New York to take in the sights and do some shopping in the world’s first indoor urban shopping mall, Midtown Plaza . It’s thrilling! All the people! The lights! The sounds! The experience is setting off fireworks in your little 6 year-old brain. What better way to remember this extraordinary day from your childhood than with a warm, six-inch high… fleshy colored…… What the #&@! is this?
America seems to have taken a renewed interest in mobility. Maybe due to President Obama’s recent commitment to high speed rail—or perhaps the positive results seen in towns like Portland and Denver have caught our collective attention. Whatever the reason, from the top down, people are rethinking our automobile-oriented culture—and getting excited about the possibilities.
There’s also good reason to focus on transportation as a way of jump-starting economic development. Industry requires access to people. And people need to have easy access to centers of employment. Continually improving access makes further development possible. Interrupting access will have the opposite effect. Likewise, doing nothing or simply maintaining existing infrastructure for an extended period of time will also hinder development.
For 30+ years Rochester has relied on the infrastructure choices it made in the 1950′s, 60′s, and 70′s. At that time we made development choices that encouraged our population to emigrate from the downtown core. We scrapped our extensive streetcar system, choked off downtown with the construction of the inner-loop, and paved super highways to take us from the city to the NY State Thruway and beyond. Since then that’s exactly where our money, our workforce, and our future have gone—down I-490 and out of state.
Okay, I haven’t put the time or effort into crafting my own “vision” for the old Midtown Tower, so I’m not going to be overly critical here. But I’m going to show you two concepts for Midtown that were sent to the city this week for review (and 1 wildcard concept). The first drawing (shown on the left) is from local developers Patrick Dutton and Shane Bartholf. It includes 158 for-sale condominiums with large window openings, common or public use of the former restaurant space on the 14th floor, and mixed-use office and retail on the first three floors. As you can see they’ve also added some shiny (albeit blurry) people to their drawing, as well as a lovely solar-flare effect to make the building look extra shiny…
After the Erie Canal was rerouted south of downtown Rochester, the Rochester
Industrial & Rapid Transit Railway (the subway) was built in
its place as a link between the five different railroads and interurban trolley
lines that served the Rochester area. As the industrial landscape of Rochester
changed, and highways replaced the railroads, the Rochester subway gradually
became a relic of a bygone era. In 1956 the subway was abandoned and much of
its route was converted into Interstate 490 built to connect Rochester
with the New York State Thruway (I-90). Read more about the history of the Rochester Subway.
RochesterSubway.com exists to help spark
public dialogue around how we can better connect the neighborhoods of Rochester
NY, surrounding communities, and their cultural offerings. Rochesters
future is written in her past. Let's rediscover it.