Quantcast RochesterSubway.com : Fortified Rochester
Rochester Subway
Subscribe for Email UpdatesBecome a Facebook FanFollow Us on TwitterRSS Feed Rochester History + New Ideas. Fresh from the Rochester Subway.


Rochester Subway Gift Shop

¤ Visit the Gift Shop

Modern Rochester Subway Map

Modern Rochester Subway Map

¤ View Details
¤ Buy at MetroPosters.com

City of Rochester, New York

City of Rochester, New York

¤ View Details
¤ Buy at MetroPosters.com

Rochester Neighborhoods Map

Rochester Neighborhoods Map

¤ View Details
¤ Buy at MetroPosters.com

Rochester Subway DVD

The End of the Line - Rochester’s Subway (DVD)

¤ View Details
¤ Buy at MetroPosters.com

Rochester Landmarks Poster

Rochester Landmarks Poster

¤ View Details



Work in Rochester

Work in Rochester

¤ View Details
¤ Buy from Amazon

Original Streetart by SPACEMAN

Original Streetart by SPACEMAN

¤ View All Spaceman Art

Old Rochester Photos<br>and Historical Views

Old Rochester Photos
and Historical Views

(Framed Reprints Available)

¤ View All Rochester Photos

Rochester Subway Cap

Embroidered Subway Cap

¤ View Details

Rochester Subway T-Shirt

Rochester Subway T-Shirt

¤ View Details

Rochester Subway Token T-Shirt

RTC Token T-Shirt

¤ View Details

Rochester RTC Token

RTC Token (1948)

¤ View Details



Roch. & Brighton Token

Roch. & Brighton Token

¤ View Details


Add To Cart

Rochester Railway Co. Token

Rochester Railway Co. Token (1900-09)

¤ View Details



Rochester School Fare Token

School Fare Token (1948)

¤ View Details


Add To Cart

Rochester NYS Railways Token

NYS Railways Token (1909-38)

¤ View Details


Add To Cart

Rochester Subway Vintage Postcard

Vintage Postcard (1941),
Rochester Rail Equipment

¤ View Details


Order Reprint

¤ See All Vintage Postcards

Rochester Subway Vintage Postcard

Vintage Postcard (1938),
Subway & Broad Street

¤ View Details


Order Reprint

¤ See All Vintage Postcards

Rochester Subway Vintage Postcard

Vintage Postcard (1942),
Rochester City Hall & Subway

¤ View Details


Order Reprint

¤ See All Vintage Postcards

Rochester Subway Vintage Postcard

Vintage Postcard (c.1912),
Rochester’s Four Corners

¤ View Details


Order Reprint

¤ See All Vintage Postcards

Rochester Subway Vintage Postcard

Vintage Postcard (c.1905),
Erie Canal Aqueduct

¤ View Details


Order Reprint

¤ See All Vintage Postcards

Rochester Subway Vintage Postcard

Vintage Postcard (c.1928),
South Entrance to Subway

¤ View Details


Order Reprint

¤ See All Vintage Postcards

Rochester Subway + Trolley Transit Passes

Original Subway, Trolley,
and Bus Weekly Transit Passes

¤ View All Transit Passes

68 Responses to “Fortified Rochester”

  1. Sarah says:

    agreed on most, but MAN, i love wegmans!

  2. mike says:

    Good collection of what’s gone wrong. I’d be good to see a “best of Rochester architecture” as you attract more flies with sugar than vinegar. Good job.

  3. mike says:

    PS-Good place to see how other cities are correcting similar errors Rochester has made with city planning:


  4. Mary says:

    McDonald’s wanted to face E. Main, but North Winton Village Neighborhood Association had its own idea of how it should look.

    I was expecting to see the new multi-colored monstrosity across the river from Corn Hill Landing, and I have an extreme hatred of the hi-rise on St. Paul with its crooked balconies.

  5. Bailey says:

    Why would you want to attract flies?

  6. Brian says:

    I believe that the Beechwood and North Winton Village neighborhood organizations were actually heavily involved in the McDonalds design. I read that the main concern was moving the building to abut Culver, as the previous building was set back a la the VOA, with the parking lot fronting the street. I understand the concerns about the intersection though.

  7. Wren says:

    Maybe I’m an anomaly, but I am always uplifted when I go into a Wegmans, particularly Pittsford. The stores have great energy, even if the outside is bland. As for outside, I do like the facade of the East Ave store. And it looks like they’re putting in wide sidewalks to be more pedestrian friendly – the old store was a deathtrap for anyone who wanted to walk in!

    I believe Excellus HQ was designed intentionally to be uninviting to the passerby. It’s a health plan, so I don’t imagine that kind of building to be visitor-friendly. But on the inside it’s beautiful, lots of windows – and balconies for employees to use. I’ve taken conference calls from a balcony there and it was quite pleasant.

    As for the other examples you’ve shown, I agree with all, especially the Convention Center! It’s dreadful. I love Vancouver’s, which would be a perfect example for Rochester to follow if there’s ever a chance to rethink that building: http://www.vancouverconventioncentre.com.

  8. Bob Williams says:

    Wren, you’re not an anomaly and this isn’t meant to be personal, but I don’t get it.

    It’s just a grocery store. I’ll never understand this reverential attitude around here about an oversized grocery store chain who doesn’t give a damn about our city. Everything that differentiates Wegmans from other grocery stores (Eg. Prepared Foods) is a tremendous ripoff.

  9. Dave says:

    I don’t disagree with you, Joel — oddly enough, I pass most of these buildings on my daily commute — but this just sounds like a bunch of whining. Yes these building are ugly. We get it.
    How about some examples of what is good and what works?

  10. I don’t want to speak for the author, but I think the buildings in this post were all designed within the past 15-20 years. Not sure about the EchoTone building. But that would be why obvious choices, like the Xerox tower, or the big brown apartment building with all the crooked balconies, were left off the list.

  11. Jimmy says:

    I totally agree that the convention center is absolutely terrible but other than that this seems like a random compilation of bad architecture in Rochester. Of all the buildings you could have picked, you picked the Exellus building and the new wegmans. What about all the affordable housing structures in the city like the towers on st. paul, or all the affordable housing around Joseph Ave? Or the stetch of land on the south side of west main inbetween Renoylds St. and Ford St? The IBM building. The list goes on and on. The new wegmans is practicle and will help that area of the city. The new parking lot won’t really be that big. Or what about the Kodak building MCC is moving to? that is ugly and should be demolished.

  12. Post riot Rochester architetture

  13. David says:

    about Wegmans: it can be both a delight to shop there and an architectural horror. And it is.

    This city is in the center of a ring of suburbs filled with people who despise it. It’s not a pleasant fact but it’s a fact. as long as any body whose name begins with “Monroe County…” has any influence on anything that happens within city limits, you can see what the result is.

  14. Mike D says:

    AMEN! Especially the convention center. That block is the most boring, depressing block along south/st. paul.

  15. Jill says:

    Thank you for this post, and for bringing light to these issues. I am from the area but live outside of Washington DC, where for the most part, neighborhood design seems to work fairly well. Most people who live in the District do not own cars, therefore it’s much more visually appealing and safer for pedestrians, not to mention its the kind of city that has been able to connect destinations in a way that makes sense.

    There is a field which correlates very well with one of the comments here regarding the CNU projects, called sustainable zoning. A lot of buildings and designs are constrained by what zoning will allow, for instance insane amounts of parking. SURFACE parking. Shame on Rochester for not adopting a more sustainable and density-driven way to develop. See this article for a comparison of Rochester and Toronto: http://therochesterian.com/2013/01/26/rochester-toronto-downtowns-same-size-really/

    One space that comes to mind is a fairly recent development in Webster near 104 and Holt. It’s a huge, sprawling suburban nightmare with an implied pedestrian “walkway” cutting through the abyss of parking that separates three huge sections of shopping plazas. Who in their right mind is going to traverse across all the parking spaces, mountains of snow in the winter, the massive wind tunnel its created, just to go from the Target over to Kohl’s? It’s really a shame. If we could get Rochester’s leadership to approve projects with higher density and less unnecessary surface parking, it may become a nice place to walk once in a while!

    Thanks again for this article.

  16. Scott K says:

    During our 7 month stretch with no vehicle, we’ve walked through the South Avenue Dead Zone many times. Sure wish there was something there to break up the feeling of walking past a prison. It really does make quite a barrier between Main, Broad, and the river, doesn’t it? And what a nice, cold wind tunnel it is this time of year, too. No doorways or alcoves of any kind to shelter in at all, especially if you make the mistake of waiting at the bus stop there!

    All those other long expanses of forbidding, blank brick, are almost as bad, but South is the worst.

    BTW, which students of MCC say they prefer the Kodak location? The ones with cars, I imagine! So much for the convenience of the main bus stops, especially for anyone who takes the 50 to Brighton, rather than the overcrowded MCC shuttle.

  17. Matthew Denker says:

    Wow, so yeah.

    First, very nice write up. Thank you Joel.

    Second, of all the issues Rochester has, Zoning is one of the lowest on the pole. There is already contextual zoning. There are already stipulations for siting that are incredibly progressive. There are surprisingly few FAR limits, and there are pretty solid rules about street wall treatments. A city like DC, and more importantly the developers in it, would salivate over zoning like Rochester has.

    Third, if there’s one thing to be worried about, it is why Rochester has not seen real construction in the CBD in the way so many other small to medium sized cities have in the past 10 years. Rochester is in the same orbit as Spokane, WA; Boise, ID; Richmond, VA; Salt Lake City, UT; and numerous others. What conditions are in these cities that are not here? These aren’t even all of the suburban cities in the orbit of New York City that have benefited from spillover. I contend that the vision of our developers and the wherewithal of our local financial institutions are to blame. Why should Conifer need to come to town to make something happen? We can sit on our hands until they whither and fall off before Toll Brothers shows up and builds something in Rochester.

    Fourth, beyond the developers, it is Rochester’s pathetic local “benefactors” that are deeply to blame for the area’s weakness. To name names, Wegmans, RIT, UofR, Constellation, Cooper Vision, etc. are all happily humming away in the burbs without caring the least bit about the city that puts them on the map. It is their abdication of responsibility that continues to hurt the region. And really, why should they care? Rochester has one of the lowest rates of car ownership in the country, not because of it’s advanced transportation system, but because of its advanced state of poverty. That works to the advantage of these firms looking for cheap labor, but then what?

    Fifth, the people of Rochester lack vision. Truthfully, none of the cities that are moving, shaking, or really doing much of anything are geographically close to Rochester. It’s easy to look at Toronto or NYC and say, “That’s different, it’s not us. They’re huge/rich/foreign/etc.” The problems of Rochester are the problems of Buffalo, Syracuse, Utica, Binghamton and Albany. The best parts were bulldozed for highways and parking lots, and surprisingly, when everything worth driving to in the first place was torn down the music stopped and we were all out of chairs. If the people of any of these places could see what it was like to go to Hoboken or Boise or Salt Lake City they could get to know something different, something better.

    Sixth, and finally. Thank you all for reading me lose my sh*t out loud (in writing) here.

  18. Meghan says:

    LOL Joel.
    This was great.
    You missed one…. the new County Crime Lab.
    And you are right on about the East Avenue Wegmans. Truly horrible and sorely misses the mark. This is an example of what happoens when an organization modifies a design to pacify a 150 different groups that had their own design vision.

  19. Hano says:

    I love how a pack of lazy pretentious people that probably do little to nothing to be involved in our community want to sit here and bash it. You people are nit picking over a fucking McDonalds, a Wegmans, and a corporate office building… there are a couple valid points here… but the buildings are there, the owners could care fucking less you what a pack of dirty hipsters that think they are architects have to say.

  20. Wow says:

    Thank you, Rochester Subway and your recent post from the eloquent Hano. Reminds me why I should never sign up for email reminders. How unbelievably rude of this person as well as the website that decided to not filter it’s responses.

  21. David says:

    As my mother-in-law likes to say, “There’s always an idiot.” Or a troll, same difference.

    Someone’s SUV got dented?

  22. @Wow, while I am sorry some people feel it necessary to use objectionable words now and then, I don’t have time, nor desire, to act as Big Brother. I can remove you from the notifications. Just let me know.

  23. Bridget Watts says:

    Thank you. I drive through the intersection of Main and Culver at least once a day, and the new McDonalds with its rear end facing East Main really bugs me.
    You mention the VOA building on the NW corner of that intersection. That piece of schlock with its vast (and usually mostly empty) parking lot was built as an Eckerd Pharmacy. (Because the other 3 chain pharmacies within a 3 mile radius weren’t enough.) They had to tear down whatever was there before because all their buildings had to be built in the same cookie-cutter design. In the process, they were allowed to cut down two street trees–oaks that were at least 80 years old, irreplaceable in our lifetimes. And then the drugstore went belly up, of course.
    Those oaks belonged to the citizens of Rochester. It still burns me that a private company was allowed to destroy them to build disposable crap.
    And the new East Ave. Wegmans: When you approach from the east or south, it definitely looks like a minimum security prison, complete with guard towers. They have a great southwest exposure for solar panels–maybe they could add some.

  24. Dave says:

    Regarding the McDonalds, as a (very) former East High student, I recall that McDs wanted absolutely nothing to do with the students. This may explain its unfriendliness. Which is weird since they seem to like putting franchises across from high schools.

  25. Scott K says:

    I’m no kind of “Hipster” or architect at all, just a man who doesn’t like having to walk down featureless canyons (with my children) to get to and from what little is actually left in our city.

    Not to be insulting, but I’d be willing to bet most, if not all, of the above posters, can still drive everywhere they want to go. Especially the “gentleman” with the “eloquent” way of speaking.

  26. Matthew Denker says:

    Well this conversation took an unexpected turn! I will need to investigate this McDonalds this weekend. Since I don’t have a car, it’ll involve some walking. I actually think the best fast food build in Rochester (they can be done right) is the KFC at Culver and University. http://goo.gl/maps/oo0Gh It’s unfortunate that the Tim Hortons wasn’t constructed to similar standards, considering it would have involved moving the building all of 20 feet or so.

  27. David says:

    Quite agree about that KFC. My wife and I live within a mile of it and we actually find it more amenable to walk there than to drive. As it should be!

    yes, we own a car but since I live within a watermelon-seed-spit of three bus lines I tend to use the bus for commuting. This opens up my perceptions of what I can and can’t do on the bus alone – and I have selected my medical providers for being on transit lines, in addition to the usual factors.

  28. Matthew Denker says:

    Funny addition that I had forgotten previously: that same corner is home to a formerly miserable HSBC branch (it must be FN now) with no walk up ATM (you have to walk into the drive through, which usually involves you getting honked at by unruly motorists), and a door that faces only the parking lot. It’s a shame, because the siting of the building is perfectly adequate.

  29. Rich Rolwing says:

    I hope to God they do something aesthetically interesting (is “pleasing” too much to ask?) with that hideous structure (a Central Trust(?) bank ages ago, I think–I won’t flatter it with the designation “building”) immediately south of the Wilder building on Exchange that they are turning into apartments.

  30. Jason Haremza says:

    As always, I greatly enjoy the online discussion that posts like this stimulate.

    There are so many issues I’d like to comment on, but I’ll focus on a couple.

    McDonald’s at Culver and East Main went through multiple public processes with the city, including a Zoning Board hearing on May 19, 2011, for variances to waive the height, setback, transparency, and sign requirements.

    It was approved with various conditions, which McDonald’s has met. The neighborhood representatives spoke in favor of the project at the time. NO ONE spoke, or submitted letters, in opposition. Without public opposition at the time of project review and approval, city staff can only push the envelope so far.

    I also take issue with some of the “blame the city planners” tone of Mr. Helfrich’s article. City planners work under a system of strong private property rights, duly adopted land use laws, and an elected leadership.

    On the larger issue of density, Rochester can wish and hope all it wants for increased urban density, but as long as we remain a slowly shrinking city, in a stagnant region without strong REGIONAL land use policies, with cheap and easy travel by private automobile, the market for urban density will be limited. City zoning laws can mandate building placement, entrances, transparency, etc. but is it extraordinarily difficult to mandate density where there is no real or perceived market for it.

  31. Jason Haremza says:

    Incidentally, it was the construction of the Excellus Building, with its bunker-like facade along South Avenue, that motivated the City to revise it’s zoning code and adopt the new, much more urban-friendly code, in 2003.

    So bad examples can sometimes cause good things to happen.

  32. Matthew Denker says:

    I think perceived demand is one of the key issues. There’s always a risk to take. Target and Whole Foods were told they were crazy for opening urban stores (think DCUSA) 5 years ago, and now not only are those stores wildly profitable, but the only failing part of them is the giant parking decks that were built to accompany them.

    I believe there is demand for spacious, well-laid-out apartments downtown in Rochester. For empty-nesters, for young professionals who can work remotely, for people who want easy access to NYC as well as the great outdoors in abundance around Rochester. The trick, then, is to find money and take the leap. Just about every major downtown housing development (whether is new, like Cornhill Landing, or adaptive, like the Temple Building) has been wildly successful. But every time a new building is proposed (when one even is), it will be the one that fails. Or worse, the neighbors in a dense, walkable neighborhood will slam the gates. “We don’t need 100 new apartments on Park Ave.” Completely foolish. Where else would be better? Where else would generate less traffic, drive more demand for amenities than right there?

    The answer is deceptively simple.


  33. Thanks Jason. All great points.

    And for those people who have questioned why the Andrews Terrace apartments, or the Erie Harbor apartments, etc. are not on this list… People live in those buildings. And I recognized that we’d be getting into sort of a dicey area to criticize people’s homes. Yes, those buildings were designed by architects whose design instincts might be questionable… but some things go without saying anyway. So for now, this discussion focuses on those, corporate and/or public type buildings – the likes of which should be able to take the design critique without taking it personally.

  34. Matthew Denker says:

    Oh, I wanted to post this as a separate comment, because it’s unrelated to the last one. One of my biggest issues with the giant new parking lot for Wegmans is that it represents a terrible poor tax on the users of the store. Anyone who uses the store, but does not own a car, is subsidizing everyone else’s not-God-given right to free parking. It’s not right. It is not human. We need to find it within us to stop with the “those people” BS. It is time to understand what we can do to be inclusive. Free will can only take a man in shackles so far.

  35. Jason Haremza says:

    I hate that I have to use this line, but “Rochester is not DC (or Boston or Toronto or NYC or fill-in-the-big-congested-dense-expensive city of your choice).”

    Target and other big boxes can be profitable with an urban format in DC because a lot of urban dwellers don’t have cars and for those that do, driving to the Maryland suburbs is a pain in the neck. We have no such constraints here; I can be in Penfield or Henrietta in 15 minutes. To date, it has not been worth the added development costs for Target, Wegmans, or any other big box store to construct an urban format in Rochester. Will that change in the future? Maybe… hopefully…

  36. Jason Haremza says:

    I completely agree with Mr. Denker on the subject of urban development in urban neighborhoods though. It is true: “We don’t need 100 new apartments on Park Ave.” Completely foolish. Where else would be better? Where else would generate less traffic, drive more demand for amenities than right there?”

    The problem is, when projects like these go before public hearings, it tends to be the opponents that come out to provide testimony. Where are the neighbors that would welcome new neighbors to the community? Where are the urbanists, no matter where they live, that see this as a positive addition to their city? Where are the businesses that would welcome 100 new housing units within walking distance of their establishments? Where are the major employers that would value new, high quality, urban apartments as a recruitment tool for new out-of-town employees, many of whom might be relocating from a much more urban environment?

    They are not there. So the Planning Commission or Zoning Board or City Council only hears the voices of the aggrieved opposition.

  37. Matthew Denker says:

    Oh, sorry, I wasn’t advocating a Target in the Rochester(although as a low cost provider of quality goods in a city where 1 in 4 people don’t own a car but could get downtown by bus easily, this might be a very good thing). It was more so as a comparison to other places where someone willing to take a risk beat out the nay saying and won. In Rochester it is generally with regard to building anything other than a new Tim Hortons. For example, how is it that buildings like 88 Elm and 79 Clinton are vacant? Either would convert easily to affordable and effective student housing, if not nicer market rate apartments.

  38. @Jason, I have to jump in here because you hit on something that has troubled me for a while. I try to use this site as a platform to reach the people who might come to a public meeting to support good urban projects. But I find it a struggle to stay on top of latest projects and public input meetings.

    With so many projects and city boards (zoning, planning, council, etc.) it seems like there should be one comprehensive calendar of public input opportunities on the City’s web site or Facebook page or somewhere. I’ve contacted the City’s webmaster about this before. He pointed me to the events page and RSS feeds. But the feeds often don’t update for me, and very rarely include the meeting agendas. Meeting agendas are often posted less than 24 hours before the meeting and always as a PDF which makes it very difficult to stay on top of what’s going on. Let alone plan to attend and speak.

    So I think you’re spot on with your comment. It is crucial for those in support of a project to come out and voice that support.

    But we need a better alert & information system. Am I looking in the wrong places? Is there anything being done to address this?

  39. Jason Haremza says:

    Good question.

    88 Elm is owned by the city.

    75-83 North Clinton is owned by Catholic Charities.

    Ask the owners why they are vacant.

  40. Jason Haremza says:


    I don’t disagree with you on the city’s notification procedures. It’s a struggle to drag a lumbering 20th century bureaucracy into the 21st century. Also, if the city relies too much on the internet for public notice, the city can be criticized that people without internet access are marginalized.

    Agendas for public hearings are always posted at least 2 weeks prior to the hearing. I’d be curious to learn more about your 24 hour experience.

    Before projects go to any of the boards (Planning, Zoning, or Preservation) it often (but not always) starts as a Site Plan Review. These are done administratively, but the agenda for new projects undergoing Site Plan Review is posted weekly, usually Friday or Monday.
    http://www.cityofrochester.gov/article.aspx?id=8589936657 There is no hearing for these, but anyone can submit written/email comments regarding site plan reviews.

    Finally, as a very low tech, old fashioned, back up, the city requires that physical signs be posted on the property undergoing review, so anyone walking or driving by is made aware of it.

  41. Matthew Denker says:

    @Jason – Yeah, I know who owns them. 79 Clinton has actually been on the market for years. No one is buying (not even me! But that’s not for a lack of desire). 88 Elm was asbestos-abated by the city to the tune of $1.5m of your tax payer dollars. No developer has wanted it. The city would probably give it to you if you had proof you could make a development happen there. At the risk of sounding sentimental, I can only say, someday.

    As I have said before, a lack of vision/ability by local developers is part of the issue.

  42. @Jason, I apologize. I’m thinking about it now and you’re right. There have been times when the agenda had been published… but items (which were of interest to me) were added or removed at the last minute. So in those cases specifically, the current online system falls short because of its clunkiness… ie: having to download and scan through PDF documents.

    There’s got to be a more elegant way.

  43. Matthew Denker says:

    May I recommend having an intern do the downloading and scanning for you? Sounds incredibly elegant to me.

  44. Rich Rolwing says:

    Just for the record I have always rather liked the architecture and general visual impact of the Excellus building (it rises rather impressively above the cityscape as one drives on 490 into the city). Granted at ground level it has the same unfriendly relationship to passersby I suppose of any corporate monolith downtown (just how many entrances is a building supposed to have?) but I find it a much more striking and aesthetically substantial (help me, thesaurus!) building than for example the kitschy and cheap-looking Frontier box “gracing” Washington Square Park on Clinton. (But then in today’s wasteland of concrete slabs I’m a sucker for any rounded element-the roof in this case- intoduced on a piece of architecture).

  45. Charles says:

    I agree these buildings are not perfect but tell the students and teachers at school 12 their school sucks, tell the owners of echo tone music and Danny their local businesses aren’t good enough.
    This like many subjects is about money. As Rochester constructs a convention center or Mcd’s decides to renovate costs are real concerns. At the same time these and other “objectionables” are a reflection of supply and demand and their is just not much demand. Buildings can grow out vs. up, each can have it’s own parking lot, and most are single use structures.
    On the other hand if we vote at local cash registers vs. a target or national brand we are supporting these trying businesses and showing a demand. Developers and and their level of investment is based on market conditions. We all want the same thing and the only way to get it is through actions not words.

  46. Jim says:

    Lets be honest, Wegmans doesn’t care about the city at all. They want to build their cookie cutter designs just like every other chain and if they don’t get their way they’ll go somewhere else. Sure they made a couple design changes to the East Ave Wegmans, but its still a hulking monster better fit for the ‘burbs. I really hope Top’s builds a good downtown grocery store because then I can have a new place to shop.

    I’m almost to the point that if enough of us could get the cash and had the desire to intelligently rehab a building, we should just form some sort of co-op and buy it and do it.

  47. Joel Helfrich says:

    @Jim: I have had my eye on several buildings for years. In one case, I planned to buy a building in 2010-2011. I spent approximately 12 or so months creating a business plan, establishing cost estimates, getting real numbers from contractors, architects, et cetera. I completed my homework. In the end, I could not get financing, despite having several well-known developers in town state that I had a good idea for adaptive reuse.

  48. Jason Haremza says:

    @Joel: I identify with your plight since I often think about trying something similar. This is what I struggle to understand since I’m not a financial guy. Rochester has the ideas, has the expertise, has the buildings, has the motivated developers, and apparently has the market. What is the obstacle with financing? Are we different in this regard from other cities and, if so, why?

  49. Matthew Denker says:

    Well, Rochester has the ideas and the buildings, anyway. The level of expertise and demand is questionable. If there were proven demand there would be financing. The issue is partially how banks perceive of demand vs. how we perceive of it. Is there demand to produce a product profitably? Rochester generally cannot support mezzanine loans at the current cost of construction vs. value of the finished product. Because of this, capital demands are much higher on the budding developer. Another issue is just the banking picture in Rochester. There is not a major bank anchored here to invest in the region, and any that are are suburban oriented. Rochester is, unfortunately, not Pittsburgh, with PNC, or Charlotte with BoA. Both of these cities have a major institution tied strongly to them (as do a number of other not-quite-large cities). Rochester will be a slow grind for a while, especially considering it will be challenging to gain traction against other cities that have realized that amenities are just as attractive as jobs.

  50. Jim Fraser says:

    “…amenities are just as attractive as jobs.”

    Nicely put. I think Richard Florida would approve.

  51. Jeff Freeland says:

    Like building bigger and bigger highways to suburbia just increases the traffic and requires even wider roads, so it will be at the new Wegman’s. Getting around the store was not difficult, requiring only a very occasional “excuse me” to navigate, usually to clueless people who were acting like no one else in world, or that aisle, mattered.

    Now EVERY WEEK, I’ll have to walk twice as far to get to the front door and that far again to get to the milk. That, for the questionable privilege of having Wegman’s try to sell me patio furniture and other assorted non-grocery junk, which I will almost never need, not even once a decade. Wegman’s has an unyielding business model, and the old East Ave. store didn’t measure up, even though it was perfectly suited to many people’s needs.

    The new structure is ugly beyond measure, with some 14 different materials gee-gawing up the outside, and an equal number of different kinds of (mostly fake) windows splattered like zombie lesions on top of that. It’s not even good Pseudo-Victorian/Ye Olde English/Carriage House MacMansion architecture. It’s illiterate, ill-proportioned, confused, and so cheaply constructed, it’ll look worn and dumpy in five years time. Adding insult to injury, seems Wegman’s is now quietly blaming the neighborhood association for the looks of the building, as well. At least two of the employees repeated that line to me, when I commented how ugly the building is.

    Aesthetics aside, the building’s urbanistic badness was only mitigated by the hard work of neighborhood residents, who Wegman’s fought at every step. The neighbors got precious little of what they asked for. And what was lost was a small but very active street front: a real estate business, antique store, interior designer, florist, hair salon, gymnasium, bank, bridal dress shop, rug store, security company and numerous apartments, all with plenty of parking. It was not Pittsford/Victor pretty, but it was authentic, historic, and well kept. At least before Wegman’s started forcing people out and then didn’t even wash the windows of the stores they had purchased.

    All that life, replaced with a few windows in a warehouse wall. I was finding the area along Winton the best part of the building, but now that they have topped out the two and half story wall, all I can think is Attica. The landscaping will not help; lipstick on a warthog. Ivy can’t hide this horror.

    As a pedestrian experience, as neighborhood, the building fails. It will not increase real estate values, or neighborhood values, or people values, just traffic.

    There was a time Rochesterians demanded and got really good architecture. And Rochester businesses and individuals took pride in offering and achieving it, as a gift to the community’s spirit and our hope for a greater city.

    Oh well,…

  52. Jason Haremza says:

    @Jeff: parallel park on East Avenue. That’s what I always used to do (and hope to do with the new store). Rochesterians seem too afraid to park on the street there, so spaces were almost always available. Virtually at the front door.

    Wegmans has a very specific design aesthetic. Whether you like it or hate it, it comes from Wegmans. For them to blame the neighborhood for how the building looks is pretty poor form.

  53. Rich Rolwing says:

    @Jeff: They’ll probably have some milk available for quick pickup at the front of the store–the Pittsford store does.

  54. Jeff Freeland says:

    Yes, thanks. I do the East Avenue parking, when coming to the store form the east (which is not often) but usually my normal route brings me from the west. Generally, I don’t mind a modest walk. I’d rather park quickly and walk that spend time searching circling round, and round, for the optimal spot.

    And yes, or course, there will be a case for milk. I was using “milk” as a stand in for all the normal things I buy, which are at the perimeter of the store. There is a dead area (as far as my normal shopping is concerned) in the middle of the current East Avenue store. But it is only a few aisles big. Most of store is devoted to things I want/need. So much so that I can get nearly all the foodie things I like at East Ave. My trips to the Pittsford Wegman’s for the truly esoteric were only necessary a couple of time a year.

    The perimeter is going to be very much longer at the new store, and there will be tons of stuff in the center that I don’t want. Each department I do want to be in will be larger and take more time. That and wider aisles necessitated by bigger shopping carts pushed by people who don’t seem to want to recognize that they must have some small interactions with other shoppers will lengthen my journey. I am a quick in an out type of shopper, discerning and price conscious, yet willing to pay for quality. I would guess my purchases, except for the occasional pre-made item, are the up-scale recipe ingredients Wegman’s would like to sell.

    The only think that keeps me from decamping to Tops is Wegman’s excellent check out, and the better prices on the items I buy often. But maybe I’ll finally get used to these Top’s downsides while Wegman’s is closed. And, become more regular at Price Rite for reasonably priced “milk”.

    Wegman’s does not have a specific design. The Princeton, NJ store, much better landscaped than any Rochester store, looks like Pittsford or MarketPlace; basic, simple, solid, brick and arches. The East Avenue everything-including-the-kitchen-sink monstrosity was forced on us by a company who ran roughshod over the neighbors, and their desires. Wegman’s refused to imagine anything different. Their vaunted business model has become ossified and unchanging. We see how well that worked for Kodak.

    Maybe this Smugtown attitude is just in the DNA of our established business leaders.

  55. Matthew Denker says:

    I don’t think a company doing and getting what it wants is Rochester monopoly. It seems that this is the case for large companies based just about anywhere. I guess it comes down to what we as a society value, and whether large corporations are the ones to provide that forever.

  56. Jason Haremza says:


    The simple, solid brick arches, much preferable in my view, are Wegmans old look. They aren’t doing those anymore. Their new look (Mt. Read, Calkins Rd., anything in Virginia, etc.) is this pseudo-Victorian-meets-Tuscan-stable at EPCOT center look.


    Perhaps it’s a general societal issue, present in any community. But as a non-native Rochesterian, my own theory is that this region has transferred the deferential, don’t-question-what-they-want-to-do attitude once reserved for Uncle George and Kodak to Wegmans and U of R.

  57. Meghan says:

    Wegman’s “new look” was inspired by the Cheesecake Factory.

  58. BS says:

    I moved to Rochester in August 2012 and immediately fell in love with Wegmans. The well kept stores, incredible selection, and fair prices were far superior to any grocery chain I had seen in the midwest. That said, the old East Ave Wegmans was absolutely hideous. They were lacking about half the stock of the Pittsford Wegmans, the aisles were too small for two carts to go through, and the general look was very drab and unclean. Because of the closeness to my residence about 2 min away, I occasionally went to that Wegmans. However, I regularly went to Pittsford, a 15 minute drive, to have better selection and a less compact store. The new East ave store will bring a great deal more business and tax dollars into the city than the old store. To spew such hatred at a store that hasn’t even opened is simply presumptuous and unfair.
    Wegmans is about as good of a company as any of its size. It is nationally reputed for treating its employees well (especially compared to similar-sized companies) and contributes as much to its community as any large business. We are fortunate to have this company based out of Rochester, and as the home city, we should have a nicer looking store. I cannot wait for it to open.

  59. Matthew Denker says:

    I guess it all depends on what we’re looking for from a grocery store, no? I have become accustomed to small, cramped, and overwhelmingly crowded stores here in NYC, and I don’t expect anything different. The fact that I’m never buying more than I can reasonably carry generally makes a shopping cart a recipe for disaster.

    This is sort of how the car culture gets you, isn’t it? I mean, one has a car, so it’s easier to go somewhere that it’s easy to put the car. Then you’d never notice that you’re buying too much food at the store since you never have to carry it and it’s all so easy. Next thing you know, 2/3rds of Americans are obese and we’re all sitting here posting comments on a blog. How did this all happen, we’ll ask.

    Anyway, enough of that dystopian alternate reality. Much like Erie Harbor, Wegmans will be good, but not great. The limitations are more from their corporate structure and lack of imagination than a sewer trunk and pre-built concrete pads, though.

  60. Jim says:

    I moved away from the Culver/Main area 8 years ago, and wow….how depressing that area looks now. That McDonald’s seems bunker-like.

    Although don’t bad mouth Wegman’s. Where I live in the Midwest now, there is NOTHING that compares for the quality and price of Wegman’s. It, and Mamasan’s on Monroe, are two things I miss dearly about Rochester.

  61. Rich Rolwing says:

    Jim–8 years ago it was an uplifting urban idyll?Don’t mean to be snarky but I can’t work up much indignation at the “decline” of this intersection which is getting so much attention. There are just some areas where you have to drive through and turn the radio up louder or something. (Of course I don’t recommend closing your eyes, unless you’re walking maybe–).

  62. zrc says:

    Has everyone noticed that the east ave Wegmans fortress wall now extends around the corner and even further west along University ave? Awesome!

  63. David says:

    Jeebus, enough hating on the East Ave Wegmans.

    1) How many of you trashing it will ever shop there, anyway?

    2) That’s my Wegmans. I walk everywhere I can and let me tell you, there is nowhere – NOWHERE – to walk to or from that is impeded by that block of Winton Ave becoming marginally less friendly.

    3) Would you rather all my neighbors and I had to pile into cars and drive to Irondequoit and Pittsford? From the p!ssing and moaning here about brick facades, it would seem so.

    The utility and appeal of any supermarket is not on its exterior, unless you have your head so far up your butt that you think, oh, I don’t know, Trader Joe’s is a perfect place to shop.

  64. Lucas says:

    Maybe we can get the Wall Therapy (or some other similar group) folks to do something about those “fortress walls.” I doubt Wegmans would be game.

  65. David says:

    now THAT is an appealing idea.

  66. Brian Burkhart says:

    What has happened to our fine architecture in Rochester? If you take a drive down old East Avenue or the Third Ward, you will see what it used to look like. Now spend about 20 minutes and browse the old house parts store on South Avenue and you will see where it is now. So sad.

Post a Comment...

Earn 60,000 Bonus Points for travel with the Chase Sapphire card when you use this referral link.

  Most Popular...
  1. Inside Rochester’s Terrence Tower
    (views: 65.5k)
  2. Pot Holds Bowie in Rochester
    (views: 38.7k)
  3. University of Rochester’s Lost Swimming Pool
    (views: 36.2k)
  4. Inside Abandoned Medley Centre (a.k.a Irondequoit Mall)
    (views: 34.1k)
  5. Inside Rochester’s Abandoned Walters Psychiatric Building
    (views: 32.7k)
  6. The Old Barber House
    (views: 32.6k)
  7. History of Seabreeze Amusement Park
    (views: 28.3k)
  8. Deep Inside Rochester’s Big Old Sibley Building
    (views: 26.2k)
  9. Abandoned Glass House
    (views: 23.2k)
  10. Durand Eastman Park and the Lady In White
    (views: 21.2k)
  11. Abandoned Girl Scout Camp Beech-Wood
    (views: 18.5k)
  12. Rochester Mafia, the Banana King, and the Infamous “Barrel Murder”
    (views: 18.5k)
  13. Exploring the Caves of Rochester, NY
    (views: 17.8k)
  14. Inside the Abandoned Vacuum Oil Refinery
    (views: 15.1k)
  15. Inside the Abandoned Camp Haccamo, Penfield
    (views: 15.1k)
  16. The Best Holiday Light Displays in Rochester v1.0
    (views: 14.8k)
  17. Inside 65-67 Chestnut St. – Old Hotel Richford
    (views: 13.1k)
  18. Abandoned Theme Park: Frontier Town
    (views: 13.1k)
  19. Martha Matilda Harper – Innovator in Beauty and Business
    (views: 13k)
  20. Inside the Abandoned Sykes Datatronics Building
    (views: 11k)


  • Architecture (64)
  • Art + Culture (124)
  • Events (110)
  • Freebies (9)
  • Interviews (32)
  • Opinion (109)
  • Other (12)
  • Reader Submitted Stories (126)
  • Rochester Apartments (6)
  • Rochester Destinations (104)
  • Rochester Gifts (19)
  • Rochester History (203)
  • Rochester Homes for Sale (12)
  • Rochester Images (208)
  • Rochester News (375)
  • Rochester Subway (51)
  • Rochester Subway Stories (17)
  • Subways Around the Globe (11)
  • Train/Railroad Stuff (47)
  • Transit + Infrastructure (207)
  • Uncategorized (20)
  • Urban Development (261)
  • Urban Exploration (61)

  • Earn 60,000 Bonus Points for travel with the Chase Sapphire card when you use this referral link.

    Rochester Subway Information

    Get Email Updates...
    Stay up-to-date on Rochester-related stories, artifacts, and ideas that you won't find in the mainstream news. Totally free, never spammy, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

    ¤ See Past Issues
    ¤ Our Privacy Policy


    Get Involved...

    ¤ Reconnect Rochester

    Related Blogs...

    ¤ A Town Square
    ¤ Moderate Urban Champ
    ¤ Our Tiny Earth
    ¤ The Rochesterian
    ¤ RocVille
    ¤ Rust Wire


    ¤ RochesterDowntown.com
    ¤ Rochester's Public Library
    ¤ ROCwiki

    Earn 60,000 Bonus Points for travel with the Chase Sapphire card when you use this referral link.

    Want to Advertise
    on RocSubway?
    Drop us a line.

    Other ways to follow RochesterSubway.com...

    Subscribe for Email Updates


    Become a Facebook Fan


    Follow Us on Twitter


    RSS Feed


    Questions + Comments

    For questions about the Rochester Subway Poster or about your order, please email [email protected].

    Want to SAVE Shipping Costs?
    Buy the Subway Posters at these local shops...

    About the Rochester Subway Poster...

    ¤ Parkleigh [ ...map it ]
    ¤ Poster Art [ ...map it ]
    ¤ Rochester Public Library Store [ ...map it ]

    ¤ Rochester Subway Poster Press Release
    ¤ Article by Otto M. Vondrak
    ¤ Design by Mike Governale

    More About The Rochester Subway

    Help Support...

    ¤ Rochester Subway (Wikipedia)
    ¤ The End of the Line - Rochester's Subway, DVD
    ¤ Abandoned Subway Photos (Opacity.us)
    ¤ Walking the Rails (YouTube Video)

    ¤ Friends of RochesterSubway.com