You are right that no one is discussing the "hard things" but I have to challenge you and City Newspaper as well. Why in the world have you not gotten a small group of experts together in one room and hammered out productive and doable solutions. This is extremely realistic and if your paper promoted (weekly) the ideas of this group-maybe, just maybe the Grinch would return the gifts to Whoville. The media has a big role to play and it is disappointing that you are all letting these decisions makers off the hook.
You wrote "Rochester has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. The region's population has grown by over 100,000 in the last twenty years ".
You need to make a distinction in the population of the city of Rochester and the REGION around Rochester (as you mention) when comparing it to the city of Detroit. The population in the CITY of Rochester has not grown by over 100,000.
Detroit is an example of what can happen given 50 plus years of Democratic rule. By this metric, the city of Rochester is better than halfway there. Moreover, the "functional illiteracy rate" in Detroit is a shocking 47%. I'll bet it's not far off what it is in Rochester, especially considering the stellar numbers put up by Rochester's overfunded city school district that has basically institutionalized academic failure.
It would be funny, if it weren't so depressing, that the publisher of a newspaper named "City" would trot out such anti-urban arguments to oppose the Morgan apartment project on University Ave. Density is bad? Replacing a surface parking lot with apartments and underground parking is bad? Mixed-use neighborhoods are bad? (Jane Jacobs spins in her grave.) Maybe you should change your name to "Suburbs Newspaper."
When I first heard about the Morgan project, I thought, "what a perfect place to build apartments." It's close to three grocery stores, to the restaurants of Park Ave., to downtown, and walking distance to museums, galleries, and coffee shops.
The stretch of University between Culver and Goodman is already a mix of different uses and building types--factories, old commercial buildings, single homes and duplexes, museums, apartment buildings, a literary center in an old jail house. More people (that evil "density") might bring even more amenities that people could bike or walk to.
This is what makes a vibrant, liveable city. This is what moves us towards a more sustainable way of life. Not surface parking lots.
Regarding the "visual proximity" to the Eastman House: I love the GEH; I'm a member. But I don't believe either the expanse of asphalt parking lot bordering East Ave., or the new film archives building, were part of the viewscape when George lived there. If the GEH were willing to restore Mr. Eastman's farm and stables, I would be more sympathetic to their objections to being able to glimpse an apartment building through the trees at the back of the Eastman property.
This comparison is ridiculous. Rochester has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. The region's population has grown by over 100,000 in the last twenty years and we've gained over 100,000 jobs since the beginning of Kodak's decline. The inner city has serious problems but you cannot even come close to how bad it is in Detroit. If this was Detroit the mansions on East Ave (where I live) would be vacant wrecks. Kodak managed its decline by retraining and financially supporting many of its laid-off workers. Though they brutally bungled their future through shortsightedness, they did handle the downsizing well. And this changed our economy for the better. We have always been a high tech city, not a rust belt city- this is an important difference from other cities like Detroit and Cleveland. As for B&L, we're losing a company that has been badly mismanaged over the last twenty years but most of the jobs are staying here. From a history perspective it's sad, but economically? Not so much.
I take issue with the way all media sources are reporting the B&L story. It's bad enough that companies like B&L and Kodak have failed, but the media seems intent on attempting to make things even worse. '
Everyone is saying that Valeant is moving B&L's headquarters to NJ. Since Valeant bought B&L, B&L is part of Valeant and B&L doesn't exist and certainly doesn't have a headquarters. I think it would be more factual to report that Valeant will be managing what's left of Rochester's B&L from its headquarters in NJ.
I also look on the bright side. B&L failed and Rochester is probably lucky that a company bought what's left of B&L.
Great article in Time yesterday re: spotting student trouble signs early :
With MCC buying a big chunk of the Kodak Office area, how soon before the Tower is abandoned and given to MCC? Rental property for tax-free businesses, a great windfall for MCC, more fun for the COMIDA handouts... when does this stop?
This is surreal. This "alt" newsweekly advocated FOR demolishing the Genesee brewhouse because, "hey, business, whatev!" but now advocates in favor of preserving a parking lot - a PARKING LOT - because "preservation." I wish I had the words to describe how insane this is, but I've been tragically/comically reduced to "LOL." If you people want to retard the development of your own neighborhood because the sainted George Eastman House told you to do so, then, by all means, proceed....
As for Ms. Towler's specific arguments:
A significant portion of your neighborhood is already paved over. This proposal is to build on top of a parking lot - ON TOP OF A PARKING LOT - so there is no pavement problem here. This argument is specious. If you disdain cars and asphalt so well, you should take that issue up with Village Gate, Writers & Books, the Gleason Works, the Memorial Art Gallery, (ahem) the George Eastman House, et al.
By the way, the converted duplexes you mention are completely irrelevant. "Paved backyards." Uh huh. Did I mention this proposal is to build a building on top an existing parking lot? Right. You don't have to love the proposal, but you shouldn't make completely specious arguments against it. "Converted duplexes with paved backyards outside of the preservation district" is so completely irrelevant as to be farcical and, quite frankly, stupid.
2. The character of the neighborhood:
You asked if the neighborhood will continue to be: "a mix of tenants and homeowners, young singles and families and empty nesters? Or will it become predominantly a neighborhood of tenants?"
Everything about this is wrong. "Young singles and families and empty nesters" will still be the tenants of this proposed apartment complex. So, they are irrelevant to the question of "who will live here?" The character of the people who live there won't change, so you are left with nothing more than "tenants vs. owners." The notion that tenants are bad for a neighborhood is Smugtown gospel, but it is, as most smug things, dead wrong. Bad tenants are usually the direct result of bad owners. Problem properties are almost inevitably owned by absentee landlords. The root cause of almost any "tenant" problem is usually the sainted owners who don't care. Target them if you want to keep your neighborhood clean. And, I have a feeling Morgan will do a fine job screening its tenants for its $1500/month apartments. If they don't, at least they are easy to locate!
Nevertheless, I ask in response: So what if the percentage of tenants increases slightly? What of it? What ills will befall you? I also wonder just how the percentage of renters-to-homeowners will actually change if you add 100 apartments to the mix. You can't just say that adding some apartments will change the character of the neighborhood and imply that the percentage of renters will skyrocket without offering actual data. Can you offer any specific arguments on this point based on actual data?
You imply that density is bad. Do you have any actual argument to back this up? Or data? Because I'd love to offer a counter-argument that, in fact, density is good. Unfortunately, you didn't actually make an argument against density so I have nothing to respond to. You merely opted to be a "concern troll" and ask us all "WHAT IF THE NEIGHBORHOOD BECOMES TOO DENSE? WHAT THEN???" No rational person can respond to this. Density is not inherently bad. Increased density is arguably good. But if you want to make an argument against density, then make it with facts and logic, not your subtle concern over the alleged density problem.
Speaking of density, wtf? The 12-story building at the corner of University and Goodman has, so far, failed to ruin the neighborhood. If that building doesn't count (because....????), then perhaps I should point out the building on the corner of University and Atlantic. You know - the one that defines your entire neighborhood! That one. That "huge" four-story building just doesn't fit with your neighborhood! And all of the occupants are TENANTS!!!! Or the entire Village Gate complex - those buildings do not fit with the neighborhood AT ALL! Or the City Newspaper building - it is huge and out of scale, eh? And what of the huge parking lots surrounding these buildings? What of all the cars that drive in and out to access these buildings on daily basis? And what of the massive Gleason industrial complex that dominates this exact location? What's going on there? Cars? Asphalt? "Huge" building? No?
4. The slippery slope:
That's not how the administrative process works and you know it. Each development is considered by the Board on its merits. If Morgan gets to build apartments here, the next logical step is not tearing down the Eastman House for a condo tower with Mapplethorpe photos instead of windows. That's not happening. So, let's debate each particular proposal on its merits, not on its reductio ad absurdum (what if one the future tenants of the new Morgan apartments is crazy like the Christian Bale character in American Psycho? WHAT THEN? WHAT IF HE HAS STRONG OPINIONS ABOUT PHIL COLLINS? NONE OF THIS EVER WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF....).
One false assumption is "that every one-bedroom tenant will have a car, and that most of the two-bedroom apartments will have two tenants with cars."
4 out of 5 one bedroom units will have TWO cars, and many 2-bedroom will have 2 or 3 cars. The parking density & consequent neighborhood stress will be MUCH higher than is now being shrugged off.
Ms. Towler - It appears that not everyone is as impressed as you by the crocodile tears being shed by those at the Eastman House.....
"The public should know that we had previously tried to work with George Eastman House to redevelop our property. Now that another developer is working with us, the George Eastman House has suddenly decided to try strong-arming us into surrendering our privately owned land....The plan by Morgan Management falls well within the zoning regulations for the Planned Development District. We are asking for nothing more than a fair approval process and to develop our land according to the rules — rules the George Eastman House asked the city of Rochester to create in 2011"
- Rene Vanmulem, club manager of Monroe Voiture 111, Aug. 3, 2013
This is a great analysis, and as someone very familiar with the neighborhood (lived there for over a decade and worked on the planning for the original ARTWalk and the extension) I'd say pretty much spot-on. While their willingness to rehab the Tudor house is crucial, I'd say Morgan's path forward also depends on their willingness to reduce the number of units and the project's footprint.
Unfortunately, it seems Morgan intends to push the limits of what it can get away with in the East Ave preservation district, at every turn. It has also been engaged in discussions (which might merit some coverage here) to replace the unique, defining windows in their Art-Deco apartment building next to the Strathallan with VINYL windows, which would irretrievably alter the character of that building.
With reference to the disclosure, (which I appreciate) I think the community would benefit from the opportunity to have this degree of thoughtful, detailed analysis of all of the key preservation issues that surface from time to time, whether or not they happen to be in a neighborhood with which a City writer is closely familiar.
Instead of paying for charter schools, we should allow parents to choose other public schools in our county's suburbs, creating a metro school district/s. The focus needs to be kept on "what works best for the children", and not get bogged down with which zip code in which you happen to lay your head to rest.
There are so many people living in the suburbs that do not have children, that they should have the option to offer their tax dollars to be allocated to sponsor an out-of-district student, if the funding which would follow them from the city district isn't equal to the actual needed amount.
I'm still asking the question why aren't we "fixing" the city public schools? Maybe bring the expertise together and focus on all students. The charter schools though making a difference are similar to what happened when wealthier parents left the city took their kids (& money & influence & commitment) to the suburbs leaving behind those struggling to struggle... The students who are fortunate enough to get in a charter school receive a wonderful opportunity but what about the opportunities and education for the remaining students? All students deserve a quality education not just those who happen to be fortunate.
No, we cannot punish people with less resources for advocating for their children. So how, do we make schools of choice work for ALL children? Education should not be about survival of the fittest.
Yes, I really hate those poor decisions that babies and children make.
I'm afraid you have it backwards, Mary Anna. Poverty does not cause "poor academic performance." The poor decisions that people make to end up in poverty collectively cause "poor academic performance" and no amount of money spent on "education" - charter schools or non-charters - can fix that.
I...uh...wow. That's about all I can muster.
That should have read: Mary Anna
Thank you Ann for your courageous voice and continued commitment to justice and exposing us to the inequities in our society that have become sadly just a way of life...
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