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42 Responses to “Filling In: 933 University”

  1. Carolyn says:

    Thank you for bringing the arguments for both sides to light. We used to live within walking distance of GEH and have happy memories of roaming the gardens in the evenings. The preservationist arguments, in this instance, are weak. This is a fairly tasteful plan which will add more residents to within spitting distance of the GEH and within walking distance of downtown. I cannot imagine that the residents of such a complex would ignore the learning and entertainment value of living next door to Rochester’s crown jewel. Perhaps they will also become advocates for the rejuvenation of the downtown core.

  2. Renee says:

    Thank you thank you thank you for writing this piece, Matthew. This proposed project has left a lot of people torn, especially those who support and frequent the Eastman House — one of Rochester’s gems.

    And this is part of the broader discussion about new projects in neighborhoods that are successful. Your statement about inviting more people in is a good one: “If people can’t move to a desirable part of town, they’re just not going to move to town at all. This is one of the best places to welcome new friends, new neighbors, and yet, nothing of the sort is happening here.”

    Taking on the right kind of well thought-out projects that fit with the character of the neighborhood (wherever that neighborhood is) is a key part of what will help this city grow and attract people who love walkable urban neighborhoods. We have a lot of people who care about this project and I’m happy that people are participating. Now let’s get them all to have as much information as possible so they can make sound decisions. Thanks for a great article!

    (BTW, I totally agree with you on the 7-11 plaza being the perfect place for something new and exciting. That’s a discussion for another time.)

  3. Mary says:

    This proposal has been in the works for years. Suddenly, when it is pretty much a done deal, all hell breaks loose.

    University Avenue should not be lumped in with East Avenue. The gentleman who built the 40/8 as his house actually turned it to face another direction because of the construction of Gleason Works. No one seems concerned about a huge factory building right across the street. Most of the houses on University are shabby beyond belief. The Monroe Voiture house is just that…a large house. It is not a mansion.

    The members would have loved to fix up the house and remain there. Unfortunately, it is a fiscal impossibility.

    The GEO was approached. Yes, it would love the land, but the 40/8 would still need a home, and that part of the negotiations did not work out.

    The church, which has been bellyaching about their parking lot has always allowed the 40/8 to use the lot for overflow parking. Now, it is freaking out about possible apartment guests using parking spaces once in a while. Don’t want people parking in your parking lot? Put up a gate.

    I just have a feeling that most of these people who are complaining about this venture had to stop and think about what property was being talked about. No one was complaining about how shabby that building had become, the historically incorrect additions to the house, the broad expanse of parking lot or the 40/8 locomotive parked there.

    These groups almost had an empty Wegman’s building on East Avenue. Yes, they can end up with their “historical” buildings. . . but they will be empty shells.

  4. Irene says:

    I agree most of the arguments being made against this project don’t make sense. I can understand taking a position that GEH is such a treasure we should just do what they want, regardless of the impact to University Ave, but then come out and say that you are willing to sacrifice University for GEH. Tthe GEH current frontage on University is a long blank green wall – a total dead zone. To pretend that adding more GEH parking is better for University than an apartment building is a joke. And the proposed building is not out of scale with that block of University, which contains many large buildings and very few houses.

  5. Adam says:

    It will be VERY sad if this remains a parking lot for the next 40 years. There MUST be a compromise that will move our city forward so it can stop shrinking.

  6. erik stoneham says:

    Well said for both sides of the the argument. Sadly I am working and can not make the event.
    I strongly feel that just about anything is better to look at, walk past, cycle past or drive past a vast un-used parking lot. I feel this building would be a GREAT addition to the neighbourhood. If there is a petition I can sign or a way to help let me know!
    Thank you again !

  7. John says:

    I find this blog absolutely comical. Bigotry at its best. While in other posts you cry out for the protection of historical structures, in this particular issue of 933 University Avenue you call for the destruction of the Voiture House which is an equally as important historical structure in the preservation district. Putting up an apartment building that will house over 200 people is not the way of going about preserving the historical district. The George Eastman House and the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation have both called out against the project because of valid and legal arguments. Parking will overflow into the Church parking lot causing a massive problem for those who are members at the Church and need it for events they have planned and for Church services. And putting up an apartment building next to Rochester’s most important historical sights is not preserving the integrity of the Eastman House, and the preservation district as a whole. I have been to Athens, Rome, Berlin, Istanbul, London, and Prague and while Rochester is on a much smaller level, these capital cities don’t allow apartment buildings be built next to there cities most important historical buildings. Adding a structure to something that has historical significance demotes the significance of the area around that historical sight. Preserve the historical district of Rochester, and save the historical significance which the Voiture house has in that area. Refurbish it, fix it, bring it back to life, instead of allowing it to become a victim of a bulldozer. There are plenty of places in Rochester and in particular the University Avenue area where Morgan Development can built this apartment building.

  8. Matthew Denker says:

    @John – I don’t know that there is any bigotry involved here.

    I think the first bit that is actually in play is the perceived historic value of the Monroe Voiture. If it really is as truly historic as you claim (without providing any particular evidence, mind you), then yes, it should be saved.

    I think that it also deserves consideration that the ground be restored, and that, to use your own word, the idea of GEH building another giant parking lot here is comical.

    I think there is also a serious disagreement about new residents and parking spilling over. I think it’s much more likely that some-time-church-goers are more likely to spill into the new building’s parking than the other way around. It is trivially simple to fine a renter for parking in an illegal space. Try doing that to one of the church members.

    It would be valuable, when posting a comment like this, to also propose alternative locations for the development. I find it rare that much consideration goes into the generally flippant remark that “there are plenty of other places to put it.” Would any of those places generate the value of being here?

    To wrap up this response, you name many cities that have been bombed and rebuilt, that are not particularly original, and that also feature prominent modern architecture abutting historic structures (Here’s Prague, for one of thousands of examples: http://www.praguecityline.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Praha-2-Tan%C4%8D%C3%ADc%C3%AD-d%C5%AFm-10.jpg).

  9. Adam says:

    @John – Interesting points.

    1) Parking – Not as big an issue as you think. With the change 2 years ago to East Ave, there is plenty of Church parking along the street that is hardly used on weekends. I actually take my kids to ride their bikes on Sunday mornings in the back of the church lot – it is not used or needed.

    2) “Refurbish it, fix it, bring it back to life” – I’ve been waiting 40 years for that to happen.

    3) You have overlooked the importance of appropriate, well-proportioned, population growth. In a report just this week we saw that Rochester was actually at flat-growth. Hardly what we need for our ailing budgets.

    Mix-use is the model for appropriate growth and funding the careful maintenance and restoration of historic areas. Take a look at High Falls and the failure there…

  10. John says:

    @ Adam

    Adam review all the posts in which this blog has published for the public. Nearly all entries call for the preservation of historical buildings.

    For example, the building that was knocked down at the Genesee Brewery site and Pulaski Library. Why was it necessary for these structures, with the one already having been knocked down, to be saved.

    The Voiture House while just a house was built in a time when Rochester was beginning to become the city it is today. While history teaches us not all historical building will last into the future the few remaining are testaments to the past and teach us to respect the architecture and the significance it had back then and today.

    I understand that the city of Rochester has taken a giant step back from increasing population rates and development, but we must also take into consideration the importance of this historical district. The reason why this area was designated for historical significance is because so that the city of Rochester could have meaning of its past, and a testament for its future. Revising that image and mission for the building of an apartment building, where that very apartment building can be built anywhere else in the city and in the University Avenue area is asinine.

    An idea has been drafted by both the Greek Orthodox Church and the George Eastman House for the preservation of this building. In fact refurbishing the property to its original state so that its life can keep hold to its future and still be in compliance with the mission of the preservation district.

    In regards to the parking issue, you must understand that it is a big issue. I have seen many people using that Churches parking lot daily for a segway from University to East Avenue. This is a major problem and this action with the building of a new apartment building with 200 plus people will continue this problem even elevating it to the extreme. This would cause a major problem for the people who are members of that Church.

    And as for the Eastman House, if Morgan Development and the building of 933 University Avenue apartments is the way you would like to go, then you are in fact contradicting the very nature of this blog and the preserving of this district. While European cities have seen long histories of war and turmoil, structure like the Parthenon, the Colosseum, the Brandenburg Gate, etc never have structures that would act as housing put up next to them. It is in fact diminishes the integrity and importance of them.

    The picture you posted is a very nice modern building among other historical buildings in the city of Prague, but this is Rochester, our Parthenon, our Brandenburg Gate, our Colosseum is the George Eastman house, and to diminish our main historical sign for the building of an apartment building is un-justifiable to our city and in particular this area. Revitalize the city, but not at the expense of our city’s history.

  11. Adam says:

    @John – I think we’re in violent agreement in theory. But there are legitimate debates to be had here. And I appreciate your response as you make excellent points.

    As for “review all the posts in which this blog has published for the public” – I’ve been a religious reader of RochesterSubway.com since 2009, rarely miss anything here. I think he went into each argument you laid out and makes valid counter-points.

    Cataract Street: Long, long story. That building was really amazing, architecturally. I took my kids to see it before they demolished it, took pictures, wrote blogs about it, etc, etc. Sad day when that one went. But the biggest point of contention legally was that there actually were several offers to buy it and restore it. So there seemed to be a win-win compromise solution for everyone in the making. The Brewery didn’t see it that way, and they prevailed. I’m very pleased that the Brewery held-up their end of the bargain as the space is now being enjoyed (it wasn’t before).

    Here – I don’t see nearly as much architecture to be saved. There is no alternative plan. And University Ave really needs more foot traffic. The number of homeless people roaming is a problem. My car is broken into frequently along East Ave, the businesses need more people, and the city needs revenue. In short, we should all want to improve the situation.

    Yes, this needs to be done well and carefully. But our Historic Board will ensure that. I’m open, but what is the alternative plan? It can’t be “do nothing” and it can’t be “not in my back yard.” It certainly can’t be “we need more parking.”

    Cheers 🙂

  12. @John, pardon me, but this article was not written by the same person who called for the Cataract Brewhouse to be saved (that was me). The author of this article is clearly stated at the top. That’s important to note.

    However, it’s also important to note that not all preservation cases are created equal, and I do tend to agree with the author of THIS post, Matthew Denker.

    The Cataract Brewhouse was being replaced with a parking lot. It also had significant historical events take place there. It also had a very unique design and was a one-of-a-kind building. It was also in a neighborhood that could have benefitted from it’s reuse. Same goes for the Pulaski Library.

    I have found nothing historically significant about the Voiture house other than it is located within the preservation district and sits behind the GEH. But that alone is not necessarily enough to move me to “cry out” for its salvation.

    Your desire to be able to find free and ample parking spaces is not a strong argument. I could never get behind that.

    As for the Eastman House, it is not Stonehenge. It doesn’t sit in the middle of a pristine green field. It exists in an already dense residential neighborhood and completely surrounded along its perimeter by trees and greenery. In the long run, I do not agree that GEH will be adversely impacted by this new residential building behind it.

    The only argument that makes sense in this case, is that the Voiture house is within a pre-established preservation district, and the demolition of this structure could set a dangerous precedent. But preservation needs to be considered—rationally—on a case by case basis. And just because I argued for the preservation of one building, does not mean I automatically want to save them all. …THAT might make me a “bigot”. (BTW, I took offense to that).

  13. Adam says:

    Nice response.

  14. Mary says:


    The Monroe Voiture is BEHIND the George Eastman House, not NEXT to it. It is NEXT to some of the grounds of the estate, which is blocked from view on University by a stockade fence.

    I heard a preservationist say recently that the BEST of each era’s building should be preserved…not ALL the buildings.

    I really got a laugh from a letter in City Magazine from someone who said “Why don’t we just tear down the GEH and put apartments there.” That’s comparing apples to oranges.

    The Monroe Voiture is made up of veterans. The Monroe Country American Legion, which uses the building is made up of veterans. Several other veterans’ groups make use of the building.

    Got something against veterans?

  15. Mary says:

    PS: If you have $400,000 to donate for refurbishment of the building and annual upkeep, I’m sure the heads of Monroe Voiture will take another look at this. That is how much it will take to fix up and run this building.

  16. John says:

    I dont mean to get you all in a storm, but my comments stand. Fighting over which historical building should be kept up is nonsense and if thats the case then this blog in a sense is advocating one thing and saying something else. The preservation of all historical buildings must be kept in mind especially when that very building sits in a historical preservation district.

    I feel bad that the Cataract Brewhouse was knocked down for a parking lot because indeed it was a beautiful building that should have been kept, and a replacement of a parking lot is wrong, but why should that action become the future of the Voiture House. While it is just a house it is still a historical structure in that area and that should not be over looked.

    In addition if you simply deny the historical importance of the George Eastman House then you advocate against one of Rochester biggest Tourist Attractions. The Eastman House is not Stone hedge I shall give you that argument but it is a historical sight that holds a lot of importance in this city. Again its a representation of this city’s history.

    Also I do not advocate for parking lots, I advocate for the perceiving of historical buildings and using historical building to revitalize the city of Rochester. The Eastman plan does not make only a parking lot, but it adds an extension of their gardens, and in addition it calls for the preserving of the Voiture house.

  17. John says:

    @ Mary.

    Mary your comment about accusing me of being against Veterans is unneeded, and uncalled for. No where in my arguments do I call out against those who have served our county. It is a shame that you would even question me when you have no basis for your statement.

    And for your information while the Voiture House sits behind the George Eastman House it is still around of its sphere of influence. And while people admire the gardens at the Eastman house they would have look upon the monstrous plastic siding which Morgan will be putting up on the back side of the apartment building.

    If you call for the destruction of historical structures then bravo! you are the contributing factor to the disappearance of our city’s past. The Voiture House is important, and advocating against that is a shame. And that would be my last comment!

    All the best!

  18. @John,
    I’m listening to you. I really am. But:
    1. the Voiture is not historic (unless I’m missing something)
    2. the Voiture is not the George Eastman House
    3. the Voiture is not going to become a parking lot (like Cataract)

    Tell me which of these is not correct. I’m listening.

  19. Mary says:

    @John: The “plastic siding” was on the first sketches. There have been several changes since then. There is no “plastic siding.” You are not up-to-date on this project at all.

    You are not reading these comments. GEH was not described as not being Stonehenge, the Stonehenge example was that it is out in the middle of nowhere.

    I only threw in the Veterans to ruffle feathers, which was very easily done, by the way.

  20. Matthew Denker says:

    Wow. That escalated fast.

    I think there’s a difference between contributing structures in a historic district and non-contributing ones. I mean, University Tower is inside the East Avenue Preservation district. If I had a killer plan to tear it down and replace it with something else, would it need to be preserved because its in a preservation district? I don’t know the answer to this, but I’d love to find out. In some small way, EVERYTHING in the city contributes to it historically in some way. Where is the line drawn? 1942? 1900? 1969? We are not living in a museum, I don’t think, so we definitely need to think about what we should save and what we shouldn’t. Otherwise, we will continue to see greenfields developed unabated, and then another kind of history disappears, that of our rich agricultural heritage. I think we need a conversation about which is worse. or better?

    In any event, a parking lot here cannot, should not be an option. preserving the Voiture is not insulting. Building more parking in a place with unlimited parking is. Even when the mall is busy you can’t park right next to it. Why should anyone be able to park right next to their church? Jokingly, I suppose we could tear down the church to make parking for it.

  21. Jeff Freeland says:

    Unbelievable. When you start using illustrations and language that is not provided by the developer, you may call yourself unbiased.

    Nowhere do you show the full bulk of the the cement sided four and a half story project. And, the parking fiasco of the new East Avenue Wegmans will be replicated here on a smaller scale. You can not add 150 cars to the neighborhood without drastically changing it.

    btw. The GEH plan does not add parking to the site. It mitigates the *current* surface lot.

  22. Matthew Denker says:

    Ignoring the fact that I don’t have any artwork of the plan not from the developer (and there rarely is), GEH adds over 150 cars to the neighborhood every night there is a movie. They have that many spaces now. How are we using the term mitigate? Is the plan to eliminate the current parking lot, then? To reduce it in size equal to this new parking lot?

    Anyway, putting people in this neighborhood, ahead of almost any other in the city means that the cars will be used less than putting these people elsewhere. Adding 150 cars to Rush immaterially effects the 75 acres of farmland where 150 half acre “estates” are constructed, but generates all the traffic to this location as is. Having some of those same people living here changes that equation for the better.

    The East Avenue Wegmans itself would be greatly benefited by a huge influx of housing within walking distance of it. In fact, it would get more business with half the lot being taken up by a few hundred apartments in a high-rise, than it does from the equivalent parking spaces.

  23. Adam says:

    Well put. I don’t understand why Rochester is so behind on “GREEN THINKING.” There seems to be a general obsession with parking and cars – which leads to little walkability and a poor urban experience. Rochester should really be more green in their thinking. Less cars. More mixed-use. More walking.

  24. Jeff Freeland says:

    Mitigate as in change the current bare surface lot, which stretches unshielded the along University, to screen it and lessen it’s large black expanse as seen from the street. Mitigate as in adding a landscaped park featuring sculpture, the Voiture’s monument, and an increased public connection between the site and the street. Mitigate as in repairing the 40/8’s building. Have you even looked at the plan?

  25. Matthew Denker says:

    I have. That’s not mitigation, that’s lipstick on a pig.

    I was filled with excitement that I had missed something and GEH’s plan was to be parking neutral. I guess I did not.

    Anyway, the development would also “mitigate” the current, largely unused, surface lot. I don’t know if that earns many points from GEH.

    Switching gears a second, I am not opposed to saving the Voiture. Keep in mind, I have already proposed the idea of a land swap between Morgan, GEH, and Gleason Works such that a development materially similar, if not larger than this is built a block north of University on Atlantic Ave. I am also not opposed to the current development plan either. What I AM opposed to is either doing nothing, or GEH muscling out Morgan and restoring the Voiture, adding parking, and stopping all development in the neighborhood.

    To come full circle, we only need all this parking because people are already not living here. Building more housing in an already dense, urban neighborhood mitigates the need for parking.

  26. Jeff Freeland says:

    Are you seriously suggesting that anyone would hand carry their groceries the more than 25 minute walk from Wegman’s to 933? The 2-3 times a week that hand carry grocery shopping requires? Do you do this? In all weather? Will you, when you are 75 years old?

  27. Matthew Denker says:

    Ignoring the advanced concept of grocery delivery, which would be popular and profitable with increased density, 933 University is .4 miles from the pricerite. Even at a leisurely pace of 20 minutes a mile you’re there in 9 minutes.

    Also, it’s not about living car free, it’s about living car light. About having one car per household, instead of two or more. About being able to trade some trips for bikes or walks, not all of them. There is not a single trip that can be without a car here: http://goo.gl/maps/QLNg0. It is less than a 15 minute walk to Village Gate, Good Luck, MAG, GEH, Jines, and dozens of other neighborhood fixtures. All of which can be visited from here without a car.

    On the issue of older folks, I question the reasonableness of 75 year olds driving period. My grandparents are no longer capable drivers, and my wife’s parents aren’t too much better. None of them can drive at night anymore. This is another of the excellent arguments to be made for living in densely populated spaces well served by transit: mobility for the elderly. Too many are stranded in places that are not here.

    As for myself, I regularly walked to wegmans when I lived on Edgerton street. It was approximately 1.2 miles. When purchasing for 1 or two, two times a week is perfectly reasonable.

  28. Adam says:

    Exactly! We are a 1 car household (4 people / 2 small kids and dog), living along East Ave. I would like to see more opportunity for others to do the same because it is so darn green, healthy and good for our city (money stays in the city when you walk to buy).

  29. Jeff Freeland says:

    +So you will still need to park approx. 100 cars for the 933 development. Where?

    +YOU question 75 years old driving?

    +Because it fits your values, other NEED the opportunity to to walk to supermarket?

    You folks are worst dictators that the city planners that we have been trying to escape since “urban renewal”. I really don’t trust you now.

  30. Jeff Freeland says:

    Lipstick on a pig. Clever. Glib. The GEH plan is better than what is there or it isn’t. Generous of you to give GEH some points. Guess that means you concede it’s better. It’s clearly better to me. A similar amount of parking more attractively laid out, a better public connection, and an upgraded building. That’s mitigation to my eye. I imagine you will have a another glib answer for me, however.

    You keep saying that denser means less cars. When will this magical situation arise? RTS will still only runs every 70 minutes, unless they change the entire system. (Even additional buses on Univ. will just mean meeting the inadequate RTS hub system downtown.) Do you really believe we will go back to a time when we have mom and pop markets that everyone can walked to? That people will give up the supermarket and its better selection and prices? Or, that they want to, or have the time, to shop three times a week instead once? And until this New Jerusalem comes, if ever, you damn the neighborhood to the traffic and density but none of the benefits.

    You demand the cart but then leave the question of the horse to some indeterminate future. What do you think? 10 years? 15? When do we get to enter this promised land of grocery delivery and no old folks driving?

    What kind of life do you led Matthew? Here in the city? Are you physically capable, with no personal restrictions? Can you carry 30 pounds of laundry or groceries for a mile? Do you have unlimited time to wait for buses, or alternately, time to walk 20 minutes instead of driving 2 minutes? Or, do you have more than one job on different sides of the city? Perhaps, children in tow? Do *you* live without a car? Can you imagine what your demands mean to people who have to deal with one or more of these things?

    I fear you remind me of the long line of urban planners with grand ideas, but little recognition or *sympathy* of how people actually use places. “Do what I say and the rest will follow. All will be better” Well, we know how well that worked in the past.

    Except for two years, I lived without a car in Rochester from 1985-2007. I was also younger and more vigorous. I lived at 784 University (across from Craft Company No.6) for 5 years, most of that time without a car. Traffic was constant and would back up well east of my place from the light at Merriman. Rarely was there street parking available for my guests. And this was before the density of flow was increased by the street narrowing, traffic calming. Yes there are buses, but routine errands became increasingly physically difficult and were always very time consuming. Getting to the grocery store was major issue and you were screwed if you wanted to go outside of the traditional business hours from 8am-6pm, when RTS schedules were at their (inadequate) best.

    This neighborhood is not urban. It is not a city neighborhood. I have lived in NYC and in downtown Rochester, Washington, Baltimore, and briefly in Philly. I could do everything I needed within a 5 or 10 minute walk, groceries, drug store, laundry, entertainment, church, the stuff of routine life, often just coming home from work, not making a special trip. Those places were laid out in times when people walked, *and at that human scale*.

    That is not what will happen, EVER, at 933. The area was platted for farms and carriages, then cars and trolleys. The scale is vastly different. It was a 25 minute walk to Wegman’s. The nearest laundry was more than 20 minutes. The Little Theater more than 20 minutes. Blockbuster (Univ.and Culver) was closer at 10. Price Rite wasn’t yet built. Those oh so close Neighborhood of the Arts institutions and restaurants? They were, at best, a once every couple months extravagance.

    The Preservation District is not like those dense city spaces. It is not even the same as the nearby neighborhood across University or between Park and Monroe. It is parklike and broad. Trees are big, and houses large and far apart. That is what makes it unique and special and worth saving. The 933 project violates that.

    One of the principals of smart growth is that there are limits to the size of a neighborhood. Neighborhoods *do* get built out. More than once you have said this in not a normal situation. That neighborhood should always be growing. I disagree. Yours is the organizing principal of cancer; unlimited and unregulated growth. Smart growth suggests that when an area is built out, you then build a new walkable center, not make the old one unlivably huge or dense.

    Another smart growth principal, albeit lesser known, is that you don’t built on the best part of the land (see for example, Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language) and that when you build it should be to effect repair to the fabric of the environment. Morgan should not be allowed to diminish what makes the neighborhood valuable. What, in fact, brings them to table in the first place. Because let’s face it, if it weren’t for the benefits the area provides and the open space they want to capitalize upon and co-op for their apartment’s views, but not contribute toward, there would be no proposal. There are huge asphalt covered lots, unused and unloved, not a minute’s walk from the 933 site. Let Morgan build on those and leave the jewel and attraction that is the East Avenue Preservation District alone, so that all can enjoy it.

    To steal from your make-up pig– The problem is not the lipstick. Or, the pig. It is that the color is being applied in the wrong place.

    (But, go ahead. I’m prepared for your canned bookish response to that, too. That is if you survive the seniors coming after you after you’ve taken their licenses.)

  31. Matthew Denker says:

    Jeff, I don’t think we’re that far apart. I think market rate apartments are a self selecting proposition. I think you are correct that they are not for everyone, and that they may not attract the kinds of people who wouldn’t walk 20 minutes to a grocery store.

    I’m not entirely pleased that the idea is to insult me as opposed to discussing the idea of the project.

    From RTS’s own schedules, the bus runs every 20-30 minutes. And no, I don’t have an answer as to how much additional density it will take to get a better schedule.

    I just don’t know what else to say to this right now, I mean, you contend that Rochester can never been anything better than what it is now, and seemingly not as good as it was barely 60 years ago. I argue that it can, and that it should try. On top of that, I argue that popular neighborhoods are the exact place to start, because the effort of investment required is lower and requires less public involvement, than turning around an underloved neighborhood.

    We don’t talk much about it here, but I am incredibly supportive of inclusionary zoning, building senior friendly, transit oriented communities, and building a series of amenities that support living car light (bike share, car share, product delivery). None of this is so I can also round up people’s cars and put them out to pasture, only so people are given that choice. As you so candidly point out, almost no one has that choice right now, certainly not if they want to stay in Rochester. And why shouldn’t people be able to unshackle themselves from their cars? Even in Rochester.

    Also, it seems like you are open to advocating the exact same land swap I propose, so instead of us fighting about stopping Morgan in their tracks, why do we not pivot to something more productive like alternate proposals? It’s unlikely GEH can or will pay enough to disinvest Morgan from the 933 site, so alternatives probably need to include new developable land for Morgan.

  32. adam says:

    I agree, let’s keep this discussion focused on issues and not attack people for speaking their minds (a good thing).

    I also reject the notion that “Rochester can never be walkable.” That vision is at the very heart of what we are debating. It makes me sad that Rochestarians don’t want it because they will end up with the ocean of parking lots they have now. They should want this for the well-being, future and growth of our city.

    Study after study shows an increased interest in a walkable urban experience. The younger generation is driving less for the first time in history. Our historic neighborhood can be protected, while also embracing this trend – making us all more green in the mean time.

  33. adam says:

    P.S. Grocery delivery should have been injected into this conversation a long time ago. Great point. Many cities have this today. But I fear Wegmanns is far too car-oriented to ever to do it. And, of course, it requires density and interest.

  34. Jeff Freeland says:

    I will grant that we mostly agree on principals. But I find your arguments messy (contradictory) and off point (both what I mean by glib) and ultimately unconvincing in the particular case of 933. Perhaps I just don’t know how to read you.

    But, let be clear. I never once said that Rochester can’t be better. Or, that it can’t, or shouldn’t change or become better. I never once said that Rochester can’t be walkable. I *did* make the point that the EAPD was not well suited for walking errands, and different from other Rochester neighborhoods It is simply not an urban type.

    I am saying that you want to tear down what we have with no firm plan for a replacement. It’ll just happen. Well it doesn’t. You yourself can’t/won’t answer when it will happen. And even with more modest car usage, 933 still adds a hundred or more new cars that the neighborhood must accommodate. And without your brave new world services in place, people will just use those cars. That’s how it works. In the meantime what else are people to do?

    MORE IMPORTANT a unique treasure is eaten away by an unsympathetic and out of place plan. The EAPD is not the place for this project. The district is a neighborhood type once common but now almost non-existent; the 19th century suburban avenue of the well to do. Rochester’s is one of a handful to survive in the entire United States. Every major city had its version of East Avenue. Delaware Ave in Buffalo WAS one, like so many now gone. Each was destroyed by developments such as 933. Increased density piggybacking on a prestige they did not create and which they then destroy. That is how neighborhoods are altered beyond recognition. One project at a time.

    Please do your marvelous and generally well thought out infill exercises in places like those two sites on Park Ave, or down by GEVA, or on so many of the other vacate lots downtown. Places where the density is appropriate.

    Glib is an insult? What do you call dismissing entire class of people or taking away their mobility (based solely on your Grandparents experience) as a way of dealing with my cogent point?

    Is it insulting to merely question another writer’s insisting that their lifestyle choices should be forced on others?

    Or what of the supremely class-ist statement you made?:

    “I think market rate apartments are a self selecting proposition. I think you are correct that they are not for everyone, and that they may not attract the kinds of people who wouldn’t walk 20 minutes to a grocery store.”

    The “kind of people”? What kind of people are those? It would take a another mile long comment to point out the many embedded assumptions contained there.

    Cannot you not see the arrogance of these remarks? The Baron Haussmann/Villa Radieuse/Albert Speer-ish-ness of it all? Snark and humor in response are a kindness. If I ever get around to insults, you’ll have no doubt.

    btw, In my experience and in studies, I understood that people will commonly walk 5-10 minutes to do day to day things. Beyond that they start looking for wheels. This was true in the 18th and 19th century walking city, as it is today. I also know personally that walking became much less viable, after age 35, especially when carrying things. I think you and your 20 min. grocery trips are out of the norm, maybe not for this blog, but for most people.

    btw2, Matthew, please direct me to your “land swap” plan. I’m not finding it.

    btw3, You clearly haven’t had to rely on, or I’m guessing even ridden, the 18/19 University bus. It’s very different than pulling times off its schedule.

    btw4, If you sincerely want to change your style, and would like specific examples of the *many* glib statements you’ve made to dismiss my and others’ points, I be happy to oblige.

  35. Mary says:

    Why does everyone keep making it sound like 933 University Avenue is on East Avenue?

    As for a land swap, if Morgan builds on Atlantic Avenue, what happens to the veterans? There would be no need for them to build facilities for them if they build on Atlantic Avenue. Not to mention that, if Morgan WANTED apartments on Atlantic, they’d BUILD apartments on Atlantic.

  36. Jeff Freeland says:

    Mary you clearly have no love for University Avenue. Or, am I wrong?

    How should I read–Shabby beyond belief (snobbish much?), huge factory building (said like that’s automatically a bad thing), just a big house not a mansion (so?), turned its back to avoid the Gleason Works (just plain incorrect)…

    These statements are your opinion and have some problems. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and just guess that you have never really looked at my former neighborhood.

    + Shabby by whose standards? Perhaps overly precious Pittsford’s? But, certainly not by Park/East/Univ Aves. standards. University Avenue west of 933 is almost finished with it’s renewal, and the few unloved houses remaining will, in time, be rejuvenated.

    + A huge, BUT elegant factory. Always high tech and clean manufacturing. It is symmetrical and decked out like a Renaissance palace. Set back on a broad lawn, trees majestically spaced to enhance the procession down the Avenue and to echo the rusticated pilasters of the factory architecture. That is place making. That is out of the ordinary.

    + The Bonbright House (The Voiture) *had* its main entrance on the University Ave side.


    There was a proper entrance fore court, the west side of which was bounded by a garage and service building. The main rooms faced the gardens to the south. One entered the house on the more citified, darker, harder, north side and came through the house to southern sun filled rooms softened with the sight and smell of flowers outside the windows. That was an astonishingly wonderful sequence of spaces and is the epitome of the art of architecture.* Those rooms also faced the the house and shared the gardens of the house on East Avenue owned by the Bonbrights.

    (I have not been able to document this yet but this layout is similar to the commonplace pattern of a house being built for an adult child at the back of the parents’ estate, often a wedding gift. But that is speculation, on my part, at this point.)

    In any case, the factory preceded the Bonbright Univ. Ave house by several dozen years. So the location was desirable enough to merit a rather expensive house.

    + What’s the problem with the locomotive? A slightly silly surprise, revered organizational object of memory, and simply local charm, in my book. One more reason to love the neighborhood. One more reason that is unlike any other place.

    + The other houses along that side of University, and even the Colonial Revival apartment building down the street, and the modernist firehouse, respected this suburban layout in the city. Respected how this street was different than other streets with factories on them. How it formed a urbane and skilled transition from East Avenue to the factories further north along the railroad.

    They understood the pattern of development, the skill and mental effort deployed there to make a memorable place, that Morgan and it’s many supporters seem to miss.

    But I guess it’s easy to hate, ridicule, and dismiss that which you don’t understand.

    *A similar pattern, although much smaller and much less elaborate, is used in the house at the SE corner of University and Portsmouth Terrance.

  37. Mary says:

    I’m a lifelong city resident (Browncroft and North Winton Village). I’m just better at taking a giant step backwards and viewing things realistically than some are. I’ve spent lots of time in the Monroe Voiture building. The story about turning the house is known by all who use the building. The plumbing and electrical are all original. The roof needs to be redone. Again, they’d love to stay there. Cough up approximately $400,000,and this “problem” will go away.

  38. Jeff Freeland says:

    I trust the evidence of the floor plan long before the oral histories repeated for 60 years by people who weren’t even there. Oral histories can be notoriously poor. Remember how messed up things get during just 5 minutes of the telephone game?

    The front door was under the main gable and oriel window which faces University. Look.

    I guess shabby by Browncroft standards, too. Good thing you don’t live in our awful neighborhood. How you’d like it if we came and messed with yours? Ready for me to impose my values on your lifestyle? On the place you choose to live?

  39. Jeff Freeland says:

    Am I mistaken, Mary? The Voiture could stay in their renewed building but it has decided to continue it’s resentment with how George Eastman House mishandled the situation. Something GEH regrets and has apologized for. A situation which the Church has offered to help the parties to reconcile. Is that right?

  40. Mary says:

    I’m getting this information fourth party here, so don’t hold me to absolute knowledge of the facts.

    The GEH wanted to repair the Voiture house in trade for taking over part of the grounds. When they found out how much the repairs were going to be, they, instead, offered the Voiture space in another building on the GEH grounds for twenty years. It was not clear if all the other groups would have room to meet there or what the limitations would be. So, the Voiture would get space in a building for twenty years in trade for a $3 million property.

    Morgan is giving them their own quarters, with parking, no fees, for 99 years.

    Monroe Voiture has been communicating with all parties for over three years now. This isn’t a knee-jerk decision.

    As for a project affecting my neighborhood? I’ve always made sure my homes have been located in residential-only zones. I remember one woman freaking out because she didn’t want a Christian youth group taking over an empty store front on E. Main St. because it was four houses away from her home. She wanted it to stay empty. In fact, she wouldn’t be happy until ALL the storefronts on E. Main were empty. I asked her if she had moved into the neighborhood blindfolded. If you don’t want businesses near you, don’t move into a mixed residence/commercial neighborhood.

    If, for some reason, someone decided to tear down all the houses across the street from me and build a mall? Yes, I’d attend all the meetings and state my preferences. If that didn’t work. I’d move. Plain and simple.

    Now, since I grew up in Browncroft, I guess I’ll ask the maid to bring me the tea service and drink it with my pinkie up.

  41. Jeff Freeland says:

    I’m glad that we agree that we should fight for the kind of neighborhood we want. I think you get that I view the Morgan intrusion like you view a shopping mall. I wonder why Morgan and others don’t?

  42. Trying to reach Jeff Freeland.
    Anyone have an email address for him?
    Thank you,

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