Rochester, New York – “This is a new era, this is a new beginning. I’m really excited because my heart is in this community and I can’t wait to see what a revitalized Rochester revival looks like.” This is what New York Governor Kathy Hochul said on Monday at a conference at the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center while saying that the state of New York will help the City of Rochester with a $10 million grant aimed to revitalize, modernize, and improve Rochester’s downtown area.
What Gov. Hochul didn’t say on Monday is that the Downtown Rochester area needed projects and improvements a long time ago. Among the most important problems for local residents are safety concerns that stem from the very high crime rate in the area. Although the state of New York is known to offer quality education, Rochester locals are moving out-of-town because there are no big companies to work for that pay well.
Unlike the downtown areas of other towns, many drivers find the roads in downtown Rochester to be a driving nightmare. Many of the buildings in the area sit empty, and local officials have done almost nothing to revive them and make them usable again. Instead, new buildings are being built. These are some of the issues that the majority of the locals find important and that should have been improved years ago.
Rochester residents need more big companies in town that will offer opportunities for the local community to develop and earn well. In past years, no big company has decided to open offices within the city, but local officials have also done nothing to make downtown Rochester a potentially interesting and investor-friendly environment for out-of-town or out-of-state companies. Local and state officials believe that things might soon change for the better with the implementation of the Downtown Rochester revitalization project.
The Downtown Rochester revitalization project should, in part, help with some of these issues. According to the state officials who arrived in Rochester Monday morning, the project should improve the quality of life, but also turn downtown neighborhoods into centers for redevelopment, business, job creation, and economic and housing diversity.
New affordable residential units, a new hotel, restoring historic buildings, and new commercial spaces are among the facilities that are expected to create the new “look and feel” of the downtown area, the area where people live, work, and play. Gov. Hochul announced five projects, worth $10 million, that should be funded with state money as a part of the governor’s ongoing efforts to revitalize the economy and create more opportunities within the Finger Lakes region.
Mayor Malik Evans joined Gov. Hochul at the Monday conference and shared part of the project with the public. Evans also agreed with Gov. Hochul that the project will deliver the desired results and that Rochester residents will see huge benefits after the completion of the project.
“In the middle of the city, you cannot have a big donut hole,” said Mayor Malik Evans. “We must make sure it’s filled in, but not filled in with anything, but filled in with things that will allow our city to be able to connect to the rest of the great things that we have going on.”
The five projects part of the investment are:
Transforming the Main and Clinton Corner – Award: $4,000,000
Redevelop four, historic mixed-use buildings that have been a blight on the urban landscape for nearly four decades. This is an extensive historic renovation that will also strive for carbon neutrality and will create middle-income housing units and modern storefronts on a prominent corner of Downtown.
Redeveloping the Historic Edwards Building – Award: $1,750,000
Combine a certified historic rehabilitation of the long vacant Edwards Building with the creation of a district geothermal cooperative under the adjacent parking lot. A total of approximately 114 new housing units and ground floor commercial space will be added.
Developing Alta Vista – Award: $1,385,000
Construct an approximately 6-story, 76-unit mixed-income building on four vacant lots in Downtown Rochester. The project includes supportive housing units for survivors of domestic violence and space for the Landmark Society of Western New York. This project will also make improvements to the adjacent St. Joseph’s Park. New lighting, pathways, and structural improvements will enhance this public and outdoor event space.
Constructing Main Street Commons – Award: $1,300,000
Create a new outdoor public space in the heart of Downtown and improve pedestrian connections between St. Paul Street and Clinton Avenue. This project will divide the existing 600-foot-long superblock into two more walkable urban block lengths.
Creating the Kresge Building Hotel – Award $1,265,000
Redevelop the three-story Kresge building into an approximately 28-room boutique hotel with anchor food and beverage establishments on the ground floor facing Main Street, Division Street, and the proposed Main Street Commons.