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$13 million in COVID funds aimed at the Riverside Hotel 

click to enlarge The Rochester Riverside Hotel on East Main Street.

PHOTO BY RYAN WILLIAMSON

The Rochester Riverside Hotel on East Main Street.

The Rochester City Council is poised to earmark $13 million in coronavirus relief funds for renovating a portion of the Rochester Riverside Hotel.

The project sets out to create a “state-of-the-art” meeting, banquet, and kitchen space on the second floor of the hotel, which sits on East Main Street across from the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center. The renovation stands to revive 51,000 square feet of space in the hotel, with the intent of coalescing with the convention center’s planned expansion.

The project stands to be funded through Rochester’s allotment from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund created by the American Rescue Plan, which totals $202.1 million.

The legislation is co-signed by former Mayor Lovely Warren and Mayor-elect Malik Evans and will go to vote by City Council on Tuesday, Dec. 14.

“I’m glad we’re trying to be more assertive on that Riverside building,” said Council President Loretta Scott, at a City Council meeting Monday afternoon. “It’s been sort of doomed. Every two or three years it’s another owner, another miss.”

In 2018, the Riverside Hotel was pinned by the Rochester Broadway Theater League as a new site for its ambitious performing arts center. That plan ultimately failed as billionaire backer Tom Golisano pulled out his $25 million in support.

At the time, developer Dave Christa vowed to push forward in renovating the hotel despite Golisano backing out. No progress was made however, and the hotel was ultimately sold in early 2020 to a limited liability company, 120 Main Hotel LLC. City documents list developer Angelo Ingrassia as a managing member of the LLC.

The expansion of the Riverside Convention Center was announced in 2018 as part of the ROC the Riverway development initiative. The project stands to commit $125 million in public investment into a 130,000-square-foot expansion and a glass-enclosed ballroom on the riverfront, among other amenities.

The hotel portion of the project would serve as part of the expansion. The legislation would also authorize the mayor to seek grant funding from the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative and similar programs to fund new parking and a skyway between the convention center and the hotel.

The legislation also states the LLC’s plan to renovate 123 hotel rooms and 171 apartments at the hotel. Those renovations would be privately funded.

“By us showing our commitment, hopefully we can leverage more state dollars and other folks involved with this will put forth dollars, otherwise we’ll have to go back to the drawing board,” Evans said. “That pink hotel, something’s got to be done about it, because it will kill the convention center.”

Council is also set to vote on other uses of the American Rescue Plan funds next week, including $13.3 million for the “Buy the Block” program.

Buy the Block is a proposal from Warren which stands to subsidize the building of 100 single-family homes to be sold to first-time homebuyers. The homes will be built in formerly red-lined areas of the city, with the first phase of the project planned alongside Hudson Avenue and Upper Falls Boulevard.

Low-income families, defined as making 60 percent or less of area median income, will be preferred in purchasing the homes.

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or gino@rochester-citynews.com.

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