I had a bit of a debate about downtown development economics with Alex on Facebook (we don't know each other) and I was shocked at his ignorance regarding development and taxation issues. He has a simplistic and naive viewpoint based on extremely shallow evidence of supposed 'gifts' to developers by the city. This totally ignores the tax and socio-economic implications of rebuilding the center city. For small investments like selling gutted buildings for a few dollars, the city gets a totally revitalized center city: Midtown, Sibley's, the new Main St Hilton, the Morgan project on the river, the Inner Loop fill...all of these projects are funded and underway. So why critique what are a series of huge wins for Rochester based on strategic investments by the City?
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.
There is more to the Pier 45 story than location. The operator was unqualified and the place was poorly managed, the service was awful and the food was substandard. Very few people I know would return even when the weather was beautiful. In the restaurant business reputation and quality create the return customers essential to success. They had the best view of the harbor and did not pay rent during much of the year and the facilities were already built and provided by the city. It was incompetence, not just location.
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