Q. What is the process now that the developer has been chosen?
The developer has been chosen, but no agreement has been signed. The next phase of the project is an 8 month exclusive negotiating period where the Charlotte community and the City will work with Edgewater/Edgemere on the final project design – including the size, scale and the look.
Q. Is the plan flexible or is it a “done deal?”
Many things about the plan are completely flexible and we are a long way from a final plan – that is specifically what the eight month exclusive negotiating period is for! The drawings in the project proposal were simple concept diagrams illustrating “program” (what kind of units are being proposed – not architectural design drawings.) Everything about the design, including the height of the buildings is up for discussion and revision.
Edgewater/Edgemere has identified the following guiding principles:
- The project will only include for-sale units, not rental apartments. Privately owned units general significantly more property tax revenue than rental apartments and contribute more to improving property values for all residents of Charlotte.
- The project will respect local character and incorporate cultural touchstones.
- The project will include a destination quality resort hotel that contributes to the revitalization of the waterfront and Charlotte as a year-round destination.
- The project will include appropriately scaled retail and commercial uses that are complementary to the existing restaurants and retail activity.
- The final design of all elements will be based upon market analysis and must be financially viable.
Q. Why do we need such a big project?
Only time will tell if we need such a big project – which is why the project will take a phased-in approach. It will not all be built at once. The first phase is the hotel, 24 condominiums and 3-4 town homes. A phased approach dramatically minimizes the risk of over-building.
Q. How has the City taken the Charlotte community’s input into consideration?
The Charlotte community has had significant input into the process going back to the two-year State Environmental Quality Review process, Environment Impact Statement, and the development of the Marina District zoning code which was approved by City Council in May 2012; however it was always made well-known that the City would have final choice of the developer.
Now that the developer has been chosen, input will be sought from the community starting with the public meeting on May 8 at the Robach Center at 7 PM. Gathering community input is a requirement of the City under the eight month exclusive negotiating agreement.
Q. How much of the project low-income?
Absolutely none of it. And there are no rental units either.
Q. But doesn’t the proposal say it includes “affordable” housing?
The Request for Proposal required the developer to provide a number of “affordable” housing units that could be available to a broad range of Rochester residents. Under the City’s Charter, “affordable” housing is defined as any person/family earning under 120% of median family income. (Please see the chart below which shows the income limit for 120% MFI.) While “affordable” has a defined meaning within City Hall, we understand that some people think affordable = low income. In fact, by our definition, “affordable” is much closer to middle-market rates. Specifically:
||120% Income Limits*
||120% Income Limits*
To eliminate the confusion, from this point forward, we will not use the term “affordable.” We will only use the term “middle-market” housing which we believe is better understood by the general public.
Q. Some of the condos are pretty expensive. What makes you think people will buy these units?
First of all, our recent experience is that higher-end housing is becoming more and more desirable in downtown Rochester; and we believe that there are lots of people with adequate means who want to live near the water, and remain close to the City. It is important to remember that this is a private development project. Edgewater/Edgemere is not going to build something that they don’t think will sell. As a private business, they are taking 100% of the risk.
Q. Some people have said that if the condos do not sell at this price, then they will be sold to low income buyers.
Q. What protection does the community have against the condo owners who may demand that access to the waterfront becomes restricted–especially since they paid so much for their units?
The City will not allow the condo owners to impede access to the waterfront. The public will be guaranteed full access to the waterfront as they have now.
Q. What is the plan for the Terminal Building?
At this time, there is no pre-determined plan for the Terminal Building. The City requested that each respondent to the RFQ tell us their ideas and concerns for the terminal, but no decisions have been made at this time.
Q. What about parking?
The Edgewater/Edgemere project proposal includes parking for residents, hotel guests and visitors.
Q. The Fast Ferry didn’t work. What if this doesn’t work? Are taxpayers on the hook?
The question is comparing apples and oranges. If we stopped moving ahead because of a single past failure, then this City come to a screeching halt. Past failures do not diminish the chance for success.
This is a private development and Edgewater/Edgemere did not ask the City for a dime to construct the development. One of the things that worked in Edgewater’s favor is that they have identified equity financing and did not rely on conventional loan financing. The City’s investment is in the infrastructure only – there is no taxpayer money invested, nor will there be, in the new development.