First of all, Mr.Richards, as CEO of RG&E, did not promote innovation, and certainly did not lower the high cost of electricity for local consumers. He DID however, manage to sell the company to a Spanish company. Secondly, he has not achieve a clear vision that excited residents-it was more a reaction to projects already underway. Creative initiative has not been a part of his administration. Perhaps Ms. Warren will be a Corey Booker-type of mayor, not the cocktail circuit, political insider that Mr. Richards became.
It's common for politicians to take credit for progress they had little to do with, but for City to provide accolades to Tom Richards for development downtown is really a streach. Midtown has been in the works for 30 years and the public Dollars to tear down most of the project where comitted during the Duffy administration. And the architecturally banal 4 story building on Clinton Ave., a far cry from the 30 story PAETEC building with 750 employees, is a disappointment. Then there's a bus terminal being constructed several bloks away from a new train station-hardly an example of good transportation planning. And let's face it, the Uof R's College Town would have been built with anyone as mayor. The U of R gets what it wants. The Port of Rochester? It seems that proximity to a Great Lake,the river, a beach, is not enough to attract private investment. Another marina seems to be the key for redevelopment of the area.PLEASE! Public education: a failure. . Crime: some of the worst statistics in the state. Poverty? Again, among the worst in the country.And City newspaper thinks that's the best we can do by keeping the same,old, uninspiring team in City Hall?
Perhaps a school of journalism and new media , along with a branch of Gannett's Newseum, funded by the Gannett Foundation, would be a goos use of the building?
First of all, Gannett began to diminish it's footprint in downtown Rochester years ago, despite the D&C Editorial Page articles on downtown revival, first moving to Roslyn, VA, across the Potomac River from Washington,DC, and then out to the sprawing, grid-locked outer burbs of Fairfax,VA, and the D&C printing facility to a suburban office park in Greece. They are hardly still a Rochester company, as identified by local television media during their daily stock market reports. Second, make no mistake about it, an empty building will make a very large hole at a critical downtown intersection. Secondly, there is no mention of the proposed Rochester Canal District, where the Gannett Building is located. This area designation might just help give a marketing edge to any new tenant should the Canal District plan ever be adopted by the City of Rochester and a strategic planning and investment effort gain momentum.
Today(24 Jan.)after listening to an interview with Joseph Minicozzi on WXXI Radio, a recent speaker in Rochester at the RRCDC event,it seems pretty obvious that we are trapped in a pretty pathetic situation with little clue of "best practices" in urban planning and development,citizen participation or leadership . It was embarrasing to listen to our local RDDC representative on the radio program. Rochester is still attempting to learn how to move forward with zoning and development guidelines that support private investment, create walkable neighborhoods, avoid mistakes like parking garage dead zones and plan for the cconvenience of urban living. Will it take another 50 years to achieve these goals?
Congratulations to George Traikos and his team for finally bringing new life to this important downtown property, the Rochester Free Academy Building( 1872), Rochester's only public high school for 30 years. Now if only City of Rochester officials would designate the Historic Canal District planning area with appropriate zoning and development guidelines to protect and enhance investment already made, including the Nothnagle headquarters ( a former Erie Canal Wharehouse), 44 Exchange Blvd. and Josh Lofton Bldg.. Then perhaps, upgrading or repurposing of other historic structurts such as the Brevier Memorial Bldg.,the Brewster Burke house, the Terminal Bldg.,Old City Hall, the Jonathan Child house and the former BPR Railroad Station/Nick Tahou might be encouraged. And the now underutilized surface parking lots would become mixed-use development with residential and retail space. The estimated $221 Million in development would generate approximately $4 million in new tax revenue and accomodate 1,000 new downtown residents. W. Broad Street, the former Erie Canal, would become an exciting new public environment celebrating Rochester's rich canal history and attract visitors to the neighborhood. And by converting the now empty space under the street into 250 parking spaces, a critical amenity would be achieved. Finally, the creative and exciting plans to transform the 1842 Aqueduct into a spectacular attraction for locals and visitors alike is long overdue.In fact, the city has actually lost about $6 million in federal funds that were earmarked for the Aqueduct renovation over 10 years ago because of inaction. Let's finally move forward to turn this overlooked part of Rochester's downtown into a thriving, attractive and appealing new neighborhood that we will all be proud of for decades to come!
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