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A hostel for Rochester? 

Does the City of Rochester need a hostel? Local residents Evan Lowenstein and Michael Lasota say it does.

Hostels provide inexpensive lodging for travelers and are common in cities around the world — Buffalo and Syracuse each have one. Hostels typically provide a more social experience for travelers and tend to be popular with the younger crowd. They often have dormitory-style rooms — though many also have private rooms — and common kitchens so visitors can prepare their own food. Some hostels arrange group tours or outings for their guests.

Lowenstein and Lasota say that some travelers seek out destinations with hostels, and that Rochester has the kinds of attractions, including museums and galleries, that could attract hostelers. The accommodations could also draw in people passing through the area, such as touring cyclists, they say.

Lasota formerly managed the Pirate Haus Inn hostel in St. Augustine, Florida, and the guests there included history buffs, tourists, and business travelers, he says. (Lowenstein is a local smart-growth advocate.)

"We feel like we're missing out on this huge slice of travelers," Lowenstein says.

Some hostels are privately owned while others operate as nonprofits. Lasota and Lowenstein don't have a specific plan for opening a Rochester hostel, and bringing the idea to fruition will cost money. They have discussed the idea with city and local tourism officials, and they say they got a warm reception.

Right now, however, Lasota and Lowenstein are trying to build support and momentum for the idea. They've set up a website, www.rochostel.com, to start getting the word out.

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