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Downtown development misses prime parcel 

The University of Rochester has had nearly five years to develop a prime piece of downtown real estate known as Block F on East Main Street, diagonally across from the Eastman School of Music.

But Rochester's big-gun developers, the ones most likely to take on such a project, are tied up with other ventures, according to the City of Rochester.

click to enlarge The University of Rochester hasn’t been able to find a developer for a 1.5-acre parcel on East Main Street, near the Eastman School of Music. - PHOTO BY MARK CHAMBERLIN
  • PHOTO BY MARK CHAMBERLIN
  • The University of Rochester hasn’t been able to find a developer for a 1.5-acre parcel on East Main Street, near the Eastman School of Music.

The UR bought the 1.5-acre parcel from the Cultural Center Commission in 2011, and was given until July 1, 2016, to develop the land. But given the tepid interest from local developers, the UR asked the city for a three-year extension, with two optional one-year extensions afterward.

City Council was to vote on the extension on Tuesday, and Council member Elaine Spaull said prior to the meeting that she expected the measure to pass. Block F is currently a parking lot, and with all the development happening downtown, she said, it's not a bad thing to keep the parking space, at least for now.

"We're beginning to get a shortage of parking down there," Spaull said.

UR spokesperson Sara Miller said that the university seeks to enter a long-term lease with a developer to create a mixed-used development that contributes to the overall quality of life in the East Avenue cultural district, for the residents of the nearby Grove Place neighborhood, and for the students of the Eastman School of Music.

"There are certain space needs of the Eastman School of Music that we asked to be considered," Miller said, "but would be part of a larger project."

The UR paid the commission $640,000 for the property, with the condition that if development didn't happen by July 1, 2016, the commission could buy the land back. The commission dissolved in 2013, however, and the buyback option was given to the city, instead.

The land is valued at $640,000, according to Monroe County tax records.

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