A Focused Future - Mayor Thomas S. Richards Speech at the Rochester Downtown Development Corporation's Dec. 6, 2011 Vision Future Event


A Focused Future 
  • It's good to be in a room full of people working hard every day to make a brighter future for Rochester.
  • At these luncheons there is an emphasis on economic development, typically focused on downtown development. Today I'd like to step back and take a look at the entire city.
Real Estate investment Map 
  • The message I want to convey, particularly given the general economic malaise in the country, is we find ourselves in the city in the somewhat remarkable position of having more economic development activity than we have experienced in many years.
  • For the moment, Rochester is the center of such activity in our region.
  • It has taken work and time to get this development going. Fortunately, we have been working on it, because it's hard to get things going today.
  • Private investments are now complementing public investment. The city is a place to be and invest.
  • In the last five years, we have seen more than a billion dollars in new capital investment to support the local economy, about $420 million in downtown; and about $673 million outside of downtown.
  • We've been building places for people to work and live, and we've been putting people to work doing it.
  • We have no shortage of construction projects, as we balance investment between downtown, our waterfronts and our neighborhoods.
  • We don't have time to cover it all, but I would like to take you on a brief tour of some of this activity.
Northeast Neighborhood 
  • Take a drive to the Public Market for example, and notice the improvement in the homes and streets along and off North Union and Railroad Streets.
  • This neighborhood had significant challenges and now it is becoming a place where people can be proud to live.
  • Marketview Heights is one of our four focused investment areas and several projects are planned our underway there.
  • Five new homes will be going up on Weld Street.
  • Union Street, as the gateway of the Public market, will get a complete facelift.
  • Eleven businesses in the Marketview Heights are undergoing or planning revitalization work.
  • Flower City Produce, Flour City Bread Company, Boulder Coffee, Wilkes Photography, Big Apple Deli Products, Rohrbach's and the Calabrese Building are among those.
  • We are developing a plan to help reduce crime and further stabilize this area by acquiring and demolishing derelict properties and increasing owner-occupant housing.
  • The northeast will be getting a brand new, local pharmacy, called - appropriately enough - Your Local Pharmacy.
  • It is important to note that we are also investing heavily in infrastructure improvements.
  • A $4.8 million reconstruction of Culver Road began in 2011 and ends in 2012.
  • This work has spurred new investment in the corridor; the McDonalds at Culver and East has been completely rebuilt.
  • We've also invested $2.2 million in the El Camino Trail Project which will connect northeast neighborhoods to the River Trail System.
Southeast Neighborhood 
  • The Culver Road Armory is going through a remarkable transition. The Rainaldi Brothers purchased this property and performed a remarkable renovation to create 100,000 square feet of rentable space. Current tenants include Erdman Anthony engineering, MRB Group architects and Boylan Code Law.
  • Negotiations are taking place to add a new restaurant and retail tenants to the unique facility.
  • The public benefits of the project are significant. The $15 million investment will result in new, long-term property tax enhancement on a site that was historically tax-exempt.
  • The building has attracted firms from outside the city of Rochester as well as growing firms within the city.
  • The East Avenue Wegmans is preparing for renovations that will create a new 95,000 sq. ft. marketplace.
  • The larger, modernized floor plan will provide a wider variety of services in a one stop shopping environment.
  • The project is expected to result in increased property taxes and increased sales tax revenue by approximately 25%
  • 150 new people will be hired, bringing the total number of full and part time employees to 600.
  • between 150 and 200 construction jobs will also be created.
  • The $4.8 million Hickory Place development brought 33 apartments to the South Wedge.
  • The $59.5 million Mt. Hope-College Town project will transform this area of the southeast.
  • It's a 16-acre gateway to the UR campus and adjacent to the medical center.
  • The vision is a pedestrian-scaled district that will bring together retail, health, hospitality and commercial uses.
  • A multi-modal transportation facility will be constructed as well as a new YMCA and hotel.
  • We are also doing major infrastructure work along Mt. Hope that is schedule to be completed in 2014.
  • The University Ave-ArtWalk reconstruction project is a $5.9 million project that includes over $1.5 million in private investment.
  • Phase II of the the ArtWalk project, from South Goodman to Union Street, includes major enhancements along the roadway and at Memorial Art Gallery, the Rochester Museum and Science Center and the Village Gate sites.
  • Demolition of a majority of the former Genesee hospital facility at the 7 acre Alexander Park site has been completed.
  • Toward and on the corner of Alexander and Monroe a new Canandaigua National Bank has been in place for a year and the new corporate offices of EarthLink are about to open.
Northwest Neighborhood 
  • The former Holy Rosary Church, located in the Dewey Driving Park area, is being redeveloped into 43 units of affordable housing. The City will also provide rehabilitation grants to existing property owners in close proximity to the project. This is a $14.5 million project, being developed by Providence Housing.
  • The JOSANA neighborhood is bounded by Jay, West Broad, Campbell and Child Streets.
  • We are going to revitalize this area immediately to the west of the soccer stadium and support the vibrant, active community and residents that live there.
  • A JOSANA master plan has been completed and several affordable housing projects have already been completed.
  • One of the primary assets in the area, School No. 17, will be one of the first schools to be rehabilitated under the Rochester City School District's facilities modernization plan. This is a $325 million plan to modernize City school. This money is in addition to previous funds set aside for improvements.
  • The East House and Eastman Commons are other housing developments under construction in the northwest. The East House, by Providence Housing, will redevelop a vacant commercial building into 46 new units of affordable housing. Eastman Commons will be developed from a vacant manufacturing building along Dewey Avenue into 80 units of affordable housing.
  • Prominent local artist Albert Paley complete construction of a new studio along Lyell Avenue at the old Valeo plant in the Canal Side Business Center. The property features high crane bays and an acre of outdoor space for building structures up to 100 ft. tall.
Southwest Neighborhood 
  • One of the most exciting things in the southwest is the Jefferson Avenue Revitalization Project. Jefferson Avenue is another one of our Focused Investment areas.
  • There has been amazing community involvement of this project.
  • From South Plymouth Avenue to West Main Street, Jefferson avenue is getting a $3.4 million facelift.
  • Our Neighborhood and Business Development and Department of Environmental Services departments collaborated early on to make this more than a street project.
  • Lighting levels along the entire corridor will be improved - a community and Rochester Police Department priority.
  • Contributions from the Jefferson Avenue Business Association, the Urban League, UR, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter and Legislator Willie Lightfoot have made the connection between community, business and street enhancement in this corridor project.
  • The Voters Block Community is an $18.1 million project in the Susan B. Anthony neighborhood and the Bulls Head area that will feature 89 new housing units created through the rehabilitation of vacant structures and new construction. It will also create a visitor's center for the Susan B. Anthony House. This project was spurred along with help from the Leenhouts family.
  • Four historic buildings will be rehabbed along West Main Street at a cost of $6.8 million as part of the Frederick Douglass project.
  • The Susan B. Anthony Homeownership Program involves the rehabilitation and sale of City-owned vacant properties through a federal grant.
Inner Loop East Project 
  • The Inner Loop is preparing for changes that will cost $21.9 million. The Inner Loop isolates downtown from thriving neighborhoods. It's underused, overbuilt and deteriorating.
  • We plan to eliminate a 2/3 mile segment between Monroe Avenue and Charlotte Street. This will increase traffic safety, reconnect the east side neighborhoods and enhance livability and walkability. 
  • At the Midtown site, the Windstream deal will help retain jobs, create 200 construction jobs and re-use the Seneca Building. Pike Development will own and develop the building. the building will be occupied no later than 2013.
  • Above are before and after photos taken at the Rochester Midtown Rising site. The project is a $101 million funded public infrastructure project. You can see views from the Liberty Pole, Main and Clinton, Clinton and Broad and Chestnut.
  • Demolition of six buildings over the eight acre site is nearly complete. Next steps include work on the underground service tunnel and parking garage and development of a new street grid and public space.
Josh Lofton 
  • The former Josh Lofton High School Building is being renovated for a mix of office, retail and residential uses. Tenants include Passero Associates architecture and engineering firm. The company plans to move 65 to 70 employees there.
North Plymouth Terrace 


  • We are working hard to keep MCC in Sibley's.
  • The Sibley's campus offers a building with an iconic name in the heart of a revitalized downtown.
  • The site is a benefit to MCC and encourages further economic development.
  • And MCC can redesign the site to suit their needs using historic tax credits.
  • The new transit center will be located across the street from the Sibley Building, The transportation hub will be a benefit to MCC students.
  • The point of an urban campus is to have an urban experience. Nowhere else in the region can that be experienced like it can at Sibley's. Eastman Theatre and School, Geva, the Central Library, the Downtown Y, the East End Entertainment District and more are all within walking distance.
Port of Rochester 
  • Improvements at the Port of Rochester are being approached in two phases.
  • A $28.9 million 157 slip marina basin and promenade is funded and construction will start next year.
  • $19.8 million in construction of new streets and utilities and new waterfront parcels is also planned for the area.
Erie Harbor/Hamilton Building 
  • Erie Harbor involved the demolition of the four low-rise structures formerly known as River Park Commons and the subsequent construction of approximately 131 new rental housing units.
  • The project complements the residential and commercial Corn Hill Landing development across the river.
Brooks Landing 
  • The latest proposed project at the Brooks Landing site consists of an 11-story waterfront building and an adjacent 1-story commercial building with a restaurant and 10 floors of student hosing.
Genesee Brewing Company 
  • Officials at Genesee unveiled their plans recently to create a destination for beer lovers.
  • The $2.6 million restoration of an old packaging center built around the turn of the century will add jobs to the local economy and attract further commercial development in the neighborhood.
  • The proposal includes a working microbrewery with an adjacent tour and tasting area that offers a first-hand look and taste of the brewing process.
  • The flyover shows some of the development projects I've spoken about today. You will see:
    • College Town
    • UR Campus
    • Brooks Landing
    • Erie Harbor
    • Corn Hill Landing
    • Downtown - Midtown
    • New Bus Station
    • West Main Street - Nothnagle, Bridge Square and part of North Plymouth Terrace
    • High Falls
    • Genesee Brewing Company 
City of Rochester skyline 
  • I hope I have convinced you that Rochester is moving in a positive direction.
  • We are fortunate to have a broad base of economic development underway. The city has moved back to the center of economic development activity. Not exclusively, but credibly.
  • We still have work to do. Everything I have talked about will not happen as it is currently planned and there are areas that need more work, but we are on our way with a sufficient base. People can be confident  there is plenty of public and private investment in the city.
  • We are here to talk about our vision of the future. For me, there is much more to that vision than economic development. But today as we focus on the economy, I envision a city that is a place considered for all development, a place where people with real choices choose to live and work, a place that is worthy of private investment, a place that is proudly viewed as the center of our region and a place that is focused on the future and has a future to focus on.
  • Above all, I believe this can describe this place we call our city - Rochester.