Mayor Lovely Warren recently announced a new effort to promote homeownership in the city of Rochester. She wants to expand the homeownership tax breaks that the city currently offers in downtown Rochester to all city neighborhoods.
That program, called Core Housing Owner Incentive Exemption (CHOICE), has been successful in recent years at turning the once-desolate downtown Rochester into an area where people actually live. According to Gary Kirkmire of Neighborhood and Business Development, CHOICE offers a significant tax incentive to people who build homes and live in them, encouraging growth through owner-occupancies and construction in residential neighborhoods.
The incentive is a nine-year declining tax exemption on city, school, and county property taxes. In year one the exemption starts at 90% and is 10% by year nine. There are no discounts thereafter, but this steep cut on property taxes could be very helpful for new homeowners. Although the vast majority of American employees pay income taxes, which account for about half of federal revenue, the additional burden of property taxes is often what disrupts the dream of homeownership for many. Interested participants can claim the exemptions for new owner-occupied, market-rate housing construction or renovation. According to the Census Bureau, 30% of remodeling activity was major additions and alterations, 40% minor additions and alterations, and 30% maintenance and repair.
For 24% of recent home buyers, the primary reason for the recent home purchase was a desire to own a home, while 9% purchased due to a job-related relocation or move, and 8% bought for the desire to be in a better area or a change in family situation. Warren hopes that the structure of this new incentive will help close the gap between the assessed property values in various city neighborhoods and the cost of new construction.
“We have people who want to live, work and play in our city and we want to give them that opportunity and giving them that opportunity to actually build and design their home the way that they want, to design it on some of the land that we have available in many of our neighborhoods,” said Warren.
Imagine Monroe, a local industrial development agency, administers the tax agreement. The city is still seeking approval from Imagine Monroe to expand CHOICE to other neighborhoods in Rochester. If approved, the program would allow for single-family homes — the median of which is about 2,386 square feet — and two-family homes that are owner-occupied. Homeowners can even combine CHOICE with other incentive programs. According to Kirkmire, developers such as Habitat for Humanity and Greater Rochester Housing Partnership can take advantage of the program as well.
It’s important to note that studies show that the average amount it takes to sell a house in the U.S. is around $15,200. The city’s plan could also open the door to new housing options, including tiny houses. Down state, specially in Suffolk County, the median home price is $415,000. Records show that these homes would likely be most appealing to empty nesters and millennials. While empty nesters may see the draw in tiny houses in their ability to downsize, millennials are looking to grow financially, with about 96% of millennial investors interested in making a real estate investment. A tiny house offers an affordable option while still giving millennial investors a viable piece of real estate.
Despite the city’s insistence that CHOICE is a successful program, some critics think otherwise. Democratic City Council candidate Mary Lupien has seen CHOICE’s impact and believes that it favors the wealthy. Lupien says that the focus on middle and high-income neighborhoods is a focus on development that doesn’t need financial support. She instead points to the many vacant lots in Rochester that need investment.
“If it is not targeted, the CHOICE program will further gentrification and increase inequality,” Lupien said in a joint statement released by her and Rachel Barnhart, Democratic nominee for Monroe County legislator.
Barnhart has said that the majority of people who will apply for the tax break would have built anyway. According to Barnhardt, the break wouldn’t encourage homeownership for renters who occupy some of the 42.58 million housing units in the United States, but simply help the wealthy build homes they would have built anyways. She points to the new builds on East Avenue and Park Avenue that have happened in the last decade without assistance from CHOICE.
Lupien believes that focusing on other programs in which construction is already subsidized could help more low-income residents get into homeownership. As the United States is the second largest construction market in the world and continues to see growth, the price of new home construction is often beyond the budgets of low-income residents. If a program subsidizes the cost of construction, these residents could more often afford becoming homeowners. Lupien sees this outcome as a huge step for the Rochester community.
In the face of these criticisms, Kirkmire counters that low-income neighborhoods would not be shut out because market-rate prices would be proportionate to the area. He maintains that if the program helps develop all 600 vacant lots in the city, all of the city’s residents would be able to benefit.
City Council still needs to approve the CHOICE expansion proposal before it goes into effect. The public will be able to give input on the proposal as well.
The summer festival season in Rochester continues this weekend with the 43rd edition of the Park Ave Summer Art Fest on Saturday, Aug 3 from 10a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, Aug 4. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This annual celebration of arts and culture stretches for a mile and a quarter along Park Avenue from Alexander Street to Culver Road. Every year, this part of the picturesque Park Avenue neighborhood transforms into a mecca of shopping and entertainment. Better yet, admission is completely free.
Over 350 artists, exhibitors, and craftspeople from the U.S. and Canada set up between the curb and sidewalk. With more than 40 festival food favorites adding to the already culinary-rich landscape of Park Avenue, you can easily indulge in the $7.99 billion U.S. food and drink industry. As festival-goers flood Park Avenue to visit each booth, eat as much food as possible, and go to the stages that have a rotating schedule of musicians, the street closes to vehicular traffic.
It’s important note if you’re considering setting up a shot at any festival in the future, you need to properly advertising throughout the event. Full priced merchandise performed 18% better with signage than without. To avoid any confusion when you arrive at the festival, let’s run through the arts and entertainment that you can’t miss and take a look at how they’re handling parking and safety.
The global art market was valued at almost $64 billion in 2017. The focal point of Park Ave Fest is its mass celebration of the creative spirits local to the Rochester area. This year is no different. Whether you’re looking for one-of-a-kind pieces to give to your loved ones at the holidays or to decorate your own home, you won’t lack for choice at Park Ave Fest. There are so many different styles of art and creative prodcuts across the world — some even created with recycled materials. In fact, currently, about 40% of steel production across the globe is made with recycled metal — and artists are creating all sorts of awesome projects!
There will be art booths selling:
Pieces crafted from wood
Body care products
Fiber accessories, apparel, and crafts
And much more!
The best part of shopping at Park Ave Fest is that you’re able to interact with the artisan you’re supporting. Many of the booths are run by women-owned businesses and while they may not be among the percentage of female CEOs in Fortune 500 companies who made history by topping 5% for the first time in 2017, these hard-working women deserve your support. By buying from them, and all of the other deserving artisans, you’ll be helping real families.
Music and Entertainment
To break up your day of perusing, the organizers of Park Ave Fest have crafted a lineup of musicians to fill every hour of the two-day festival. There will be three stages along the length of Park Avenue and the first bands go on at 10:15 in the morning. At the east end of the festival, there will be the Alexander Stage on the corner of Alexander Street and Park. In the center of the festivities is the Oxford Stage on the corner of Park and Oxford Street. The third stage will be the Somerton Stage at the west end of Park Avenue between Somerton Street and Culver Road.
As a festival built for families, there will be a Kids Park designed to entertain the little ones. This shady tree-lined park will be on the Park Avenue side of the Rochester Museum & Science Center. Additionally, there are all kinds of delecious meals to be enjoyed across Park Ave. Americans consume more chicken than anyone else in the world. In fact, it’s the number one protein consumed in the United States. There will be plenty of tasty chicken during the festival, for sure!
Kids can enjoy a wide variety of activities including bounce houses, Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventure, a Euro Bungee attraction, and a rock-climbing wall. While 45% of Americans have trouble falling asleep, your kids will have no problem drifting off the dreamland after a day filled with these fun activities. To further ensure you tire out the tykes, there will be additional bounce houses, obstacle courses, and other interactive inflatables for young festival-goers in the 7-Eleven parking lot near the corner of Park Avenue and Berkley Street.
Parking and Street Closures
To get to the festivities, you’ll need to know a bit about where you can park and what roads will not be accessible. Road closures during big events like this are essential in preventing car accidents, which injure 3 million people every year in the United States. Luckily, the only road closure will be where the festival is setting up. Between Alexander Street and Culver Road, Park Avenue will be closed from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Aug 3 and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Aug 4.
Parking will be available on one side of the side streets in the Park Avenue neighborhood. As these spots will be in high demand, the Greek Orthodox Church of Annunciation located at 962 East Ave is offering off-street parking for $5 per car.
Free parking will be available behind Gleason Works on University Avenue and at Monroe Square on Monroe Avenue. To transport you from these free lots to the festival, there will be roundtrip shuttle service for $3 that runs throughout the day. The shuttle is accessible for wheelchairs and there will also be a limited number of handicap parking spots available at Parkleigh, located on the corner of Park Avenue and Goodman Street.
For general information on the festival when you’re there, you can go to the Festival Office just west of Oxford Street.
There will also be first-aid service available next to the 7-Eleven parking lot. If you feel ill during the festival, don’t hesitate to visit the first-aid tent or go to an urgent care center nearby, which can often provide expert medical treatment with wait times of 30 minutes or less. Anyone who sees suspicious activity during the festival or becomes separated from their child should seek the help of Rochester Police Officers, who will be on patrol throughout the festival, or Festival Block Captains who will be wearing light blue polo shirts and bright yellow messenger bags.
With a sunny weather forecast, it’s sure to be the perfect weekend for Park Ave Fest. Step out of your homes and give your HVAC systems a break from keeping you cool by stopping by the festival this Saturday or Sunday. You’ll eat delicious food, hear wonderful music, discover new artists, and make memories that will last for years to come.
Rochester resident Cindy Dudak experienced the unique sadness that comes with a beloved pet going missing when her pet bird Missy, a conure parrot, flew out of their Seneca Towers apartment. Dudak has also now experienced the wonderful happiness and sense of relief that comes with that same pet returning home. What’s strange about this story is that these two feelings happened over a year apart.
On April 12, 2018, Dudak accidentally left the apartment’s sliding balcony door open for a just moment. In that sliver of time, Missy took the chance to spread her wings and got outside. A gust of wind swept her up, depositing the parrot into a nearby tree. Before Dudak could successfully coax her back inside, two larger birds chased Missy off of her perch and away from her home.
“There were no leaves on the tree, so she was like a sitting duck. If I were younger, I would have climbed the tree myself,” said Dudak, 66.
Short of scaling that tree, Dudak did everything she possibly could to get Missy back home. She walked around the neighborhood with her carrier and favorite bell-adorned toys, hoping the parrot would hear the familiar ringing and come back to her. She then scouted the area by bike and car, but to no avail.
Dudak contacted lost-pet organizations in the city and surrounding suburbs to post information about her missing bird. She got in touch with the Humane Society of Greater Rochester at Lollypop Farm and made sure notices about Missy were posted to the Lollypop Spotters Facebook page. According to the Social Media Marketing Industry Report, nearly two-thirds of marketers cited Facebook as the most important social platform.After a couple of weeks, Dudak realized how much stress the search was putting on her body and knew she had to slow down.
Despite the weeks and months that were passing, Dudak didn’t stop praying for Missy’s safety. She also held on to Missy’s cage, toys, and perches around the apartment. Perches allow a conure parrot to have the run of an apartment, whether that apartment falls in the median rent of $1,492 per month or well above or below it. According to Lollypop spokesperson Ashley Zeh, parrots are happiest when they can spread their wings and fly around. Dudak’s perches ensured Missy could do this, but she was apparently looking for a grander adventure.
That adventure ended on June 7, 2019 when Missy flew into a building under construction. Thankfully, the construction project hadn’t gotten around to installing energy efficient windows, which lower energy bills by 7% to 15% when compared to standard windows. Without those money-saving panes in place, Missy was able to sail in through a fourth-floor window.
She found a new perch on a construction worker’s shoulder and refused to leave it. The building this unsuspecting construction worker was in was less than two miles from Seneca Towers.
Luckily, Dudak wasn’t one of the 35.5. million Americans who move every year. She had stayed put, stayed hopeful, and Missy had returned home. The two were reunited less than 24 hours later after Dudak received a long-awaited email. A worker at Birds Unlimited, a pet store in Penfield Dudak had contacted when Missy initially went missing, had seen a post on the Lollypop Spotters page about a conure that had been turned into the Perinton shelter. Dudak checked the post and started crying when she saw the parrot looked just like Missy.
When Dudak arrived at the shelter, they confirmed that the band number on the found parrot matched Missy’s and the year-long separation between pet and owner ended. But history has shown us that time is relative, as when French revolutionaries tried to institute a 10-hour clock after the French Revolution. Just like the revolutionaries, time certainly seemed to have no meaning for Missy and Dudak, as the two were thick as thieves again almost immediately.
“She came right over to me, and I was so happy,” Dudak said.
Zeh has said that she cannot remember a pet bird being found after going missing for such a long time, making Missy’s story quite unique. Although a recent study has found that dozens of parrot species typically kept as pets are now living in the wild in states across the Northeast and Midwest, many were shocked that Missy survived the harsj Rochester winter on her own. After all, Missy’s species of parrot is native to the forests of South America and as a pet bird she shouldn’t have been accustomed to foraging for her own food.
Yet despite all odds, Dudak has her beloved Missy back in their Seneca Towers apartment. Dudak now knows to never give up hope on a lost pet and, hopefully, to never leave a balcony door open with an adventurous parrot inside who likes to spread her wings.
The city of Rochester is gearing up for a few major construction projects that are all looking to change its current landscape and affordability. One program that will shift the housing market in Rochester is the Mission-Based Affordable Housing Partnership.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James came to Rochester on May 18 to announce to program. According to the announcement, the program will grant up to $1.4 million to mission-based organizations that are looking to develop available land into affordable housing. Nonprofit civic institutions will also be eligible for the grant. This program will extend beyond Rochester into Erie county as well as areas of Central New York and the Capital Region.
When James visited earlier in the month, she met with local political and faith leaders at F.I.G.H.T Village, a champion of affordable housing in Rochester led by Minister Clifford Florence. The organization has been pushing for affordable housing in Rochester since the 1960s. Its challenges lie in combatting the placement of low-income families in cheap but old homes that present dangers such as lead paint, which is still present in about 57 million homes in the United States.
“We’re fighting with racism, we’re fighting with the lack of jobs, affordable housing, education. So the issues are the same as they were 50 years ago, but we have to have the will to do what it takes to change it,” Florence said.
With the new partnership, organizations like F.I.G.H.T will finally be able to give Rochester residents a permanent solution for stable and economical housing. Too often, homeowners facing financial troubles turn to temporary fixes such as hard money loans, which typically have a loan-to-value ratio in the 60% to 70% range. Now F.I.G.H.T will be able to give residents another option by working with trustworthy developers. These professionals can help guide organizations through the construction processes, which are often long and complicated. For instance, unlike traditional mudjacking where a minimum waiting period of 24 hours is necessary, builders can use raised concrete right away.
A typical family spends about a third of its annual heating and cooling budget — roughly $350 — on air that leaks into or out of the house through unintended gaps and cracks.Since there are around 17 million shipping containers in the world, and only 6 million of these in use — approximately 11 million shipping containers are currently unused and could be converted into affordable homes for people all over the United States.
The Flower City Habitat for Humanity and the Autism Council of Rochester are also partnering to bring housing for an underserved community in the city. The two organizations plan to develop autism-friendly homes for families that have children with autism.
Not only will the program get more families closer to being homeowners, the number of which in the country is down to 63.4% from 69% in 2004, but it will also provide the space and modifications that children with autism need.
Objects such as compression swings can help balance the behavior and emotions of children with autism, but they don’t fit very easily into a two-bedroom apartment. The housing will also include sound and light sensitivity and a stockade fence in the backyard that measures six to eight feet high to ensure kids don’t wander into the streets while they play.
The final piece of news in Rochester construction is the proposed Rochester 2034 comprehensive plan. This plan aims to increase density and create more varied uses for certain city arterials. According to city officials, the proposal won’t result in many dramatic changes, but will instead reinforce or restore the downtown area’s historic form and character.
The rezoning efforts would aim to balance the stark differences in poverty rates, education levels, unemployment, minority population share, and more seen between the neighborhoods with the highest and lowest demands. In the southeast and crescent, two areas that are polar opposites to one another, two-thirds of residences are rentals. This is higher than the citywide average and with 33% of renters moving every year, there isn’t much permanency in either of these zones.
No official zoning changes are underway now, but they will go be brought to the neighborhoods and go through normal approvals when it comes time.
The plan will also focus on street-level retail around the East End area, Sibley Square, and Midtown. Establishments like local restaurants and independent coffee shops, which have about $12 billion in annual sales, will help guide the rezoning process in these areas.
The proposal is both more flexible in regulations regarding minimum lot sizes and parking and more adamant about higher standards for the design of mixed-use and multi-family building projects. Although no details of the plan are definite quite yet, the city will hire a consultant to review its zoning code and map once the plan is adopted.
Local dentist Dr. Susan Bracker is taking action in the face of a national addiction crisis. She has vowed to run an opioid-free clinic in an attempt to lower the number of people who first experience the addictive drug through the prescriptions dentists give out after surgery. Of the 20.5 million Americans 12 or older that had a substance use disorder in 2015, 2 million had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers and 591,000 had a substance use disorder involving heroin. Sadly, as of 2016, about 948,000 Americans reported using heroin.
When patients enter Dr. Bracker’s practice in Greece, the first thing they see is a sign on the door informing them of the change in procedure. Dr. Bracker believes that her small notice on the practice door is more than an indication of how that specific practice operates, but a greater sign of the times.
“I think this has affected so many people. There’s not a person out there who doesn’t know someone who has died from addiction,” Dr. Bracker told 13WHAM News.
Across the United States, overdoses from opioids have been increasing in men and women in most age groups. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 42,000 people died of overdoses from prescription or illicit opioids in 2016 alone.
It may seem like this addiction crisis would only affect those who struggle to manage longterm conditions, such as the six out of 10 baby boomers who are predicted to manage a chronic condition by 2030. However, a recent study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) revealed the unexpected risks that prescription opioids from dentists pose to teenagers.
Every year, dentists pull 10 million wisdom teeth from patients who range in age from 13 to 30. About 80% of these patients fill the opioid prescription they receive from their dental surgeon. According to the recent study from JAMA, almost 6% of patients who fill the initial prescription are diagnosed with opioid abuse a year later. Teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18 are among the hardest hit by the addiction.
Public health officials say that the best way to combat the crisis is to tackle the opioid prescription process, which is exactly what Dr. Bracker is doing at her practice. She is encouraging patients to turn to over-the-counter pain medication like Tylenol and Advil. According to the Journal of the American Dental Association, a review of over 460 studies showed that taking these two medications together in appropriate doses is actually more effective than opioid medication on dental pain and leads to fewer side effects. It’s crucial for medical establishments to keep deligent records of every patient — especially when it comes to prescription medications. According to the Gartner Group, 15% of all paper documents are misplaced and 7.5% are lost completely.
“I think we’ve been programmed that, unless it’s a prescription, it isn’t as good. In most of those kinds of extractions, you really don’t need it. Most kids heal really fast and easily,” says Dr. Bracker.
At Dr. Bracker’s practice, they only break their opioid-free policy in extreme cases. Even in these instances, Dr. Bracker only allows doses of the opioid medication to cover three days, well under the seven-day recommendation from the American Dental Association. When she prescribes opioids, she also educates patients on their addictive nature and advises to take them on a strictly as-needed basis.
As 99.7% of adults believe that a healthy smile is socially important, avoiding procedures that cause dental pain is nearly impossible. However, Dr. Susan Bracker has demonstrated that avoiding the use of dangerously addictive medications is entirely possible when those giving out prescriptions take control.
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.