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A boost for Rochester riverfront development? 

The Vacuum Oil industrial site in southwest Rochester typified the city's manufacturing muscle in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when busy factories dotted the area.

But the now-rundown 25-acre collection of public and private properties on the west bank of the Genesee River at Flint Street could see a revival. A bill sponsored by US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Louise Slaughter could help to spur growth in the area.

Gillibrand was in Rochester earlier today at the site to talk about the legislation. The Waterfront Brownfields Revitalization Act would provide grants to local governments to redevelop abandoned and underused industrial properties on waterfronts.

The legislation would provide $220 million over five years. Public entities could apply for grants up to $500,000 to redevelop areas like the Vacuum Oil site.

Brownfield cleanups are too expensive for developers to handle by themselves, said Michael Keane, a spokesperson for the city.

"Once the cleanup is complete, developers can make an investment and get a return out of it," he said.

Once developed, the site, which is in the Plymouth Exchange neighborhood, would further the city's plans to develop the riverfront. Some initial planning for the site is already under way.

Though most residents and city officials agree that the river is one of the area's most important assets, riverfront development has been slow in Rochester. For much of the city's history, the Genesee served industry, leaving some areas contaminated with pollutants.

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