Benjamin Woelk 
Member since Aug 24, 2016


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Re: “Feedback 4/12

The above post should not read "On a reader's criticism of the Visionary Square proposal for Parcel 5" but rather the criticism of the RBTL concept at Parcel 5 as my editorial clearly supports development that encourages open green space development at Parcel 5.

Thank you.

3 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Benjamin Woelk on 04/14/2017 at 2:23 PM

Re: “Feedback 3/29

I think Eric has missed several key points here:

1) Rochester doesn't have a track record when it comes to creating central public squares on Main Street, the reality is this has not been done before.

2) Comparing a proposal (Rochester Visionary Square) that is less than $1 million in cost to the fast ferry and Renaissance Square demonstrates that you are struggling with the context of downtown development. Those project you mentioned were in excess of $60 million and required an enormous amount of money from the public sector. The re-watering of Broad Street could be in excess of $100 million. Charlotte is yet another incorrect comparison. Rochester Visionary Square requires no public money and is low-impact development which keeps it's cost very low.

3) To have vision one needs to reach for those things that have not been done in our city and recognize that innovative cities are reanimate their downtown's through projects just like Rochester Visionary Square. The reality is in the City of Rochester we do not have any public realms that are designed for the 21st Century. There is also the incorrect perception that downtown has a surplus of Greenspace when in fact the Center City suffers from a lack of it, The National Parks and Recreation Association recommends 8 acres
of parkland for every 1,000 people. The Center City Planning Area
provides 2.5 acres per 1,000 people - a paltry 29 percent of what is recommended.

I've continued to hear how MLK park could be an alternative with no basis as it is a failure of a design for Public Space and ignores key recommendations that the Street Life Project and Project for Public Spaces has identified like clear sight lines and at surface level to overcome perceptions and issues of crime/safety.

Finally, we are ignoring perhaps the biggest elephant in the room and that is we have an equity issue in downtown. The median household income in Center City is $20, 712 with nearly 40.7 percent of people fall below the Federal Poverty Level fir a household of two at only $15,000 annually.

We need a space that will give people a reason to stay downtown, Parcel 5 with no amenities has already proven to be an iconic and central place for people to gather. Creating a space that is free and offers both passive and active programming is key for the future of Rochester. Creating a place that boasts street level activity will build pride, social cohesion, and give businesses the confidence they need to move downtown.

For more information on our proposal visit: http://www.thisisnotapark.com/proposal/

Benjamin Woelk
Co-Director
Rochester Visionary Square

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Benjamin Woelk on 04/06/2017 at 4:29 PM

Re: “A modest little proposal for revitalizing downtown

If you want to have companies move to downtown Rochester than we as a city must invest in holistic districts that actually generate activity. In your criticism of green-space for Parcel 5 you've missed the point that both real estate value and knowledgeable young workers are drawn to central public spaces of these types. https://www.planning.org/cityparks/briefingpapers/economicdevelopment.htm

I find it equally curious that you cite Detroit as a positive example of the effects of corporations moving their downtown headquarters, but did not come across the fact that Campus Martius a 1.2 acre greenspace was directly responsible for drawing the corporate headquarters of Compuware and the 4000 jobs that came to the center of Detroit as part of it. http://www.pps.org/reference/putting-our-jobs-back-in-place/

How were they able to achieve that? Through the programming of retractable stages, outdoor cafes, and an ice skating rink in a greenspace that created a lively district.

Parcel 5 is nearly identical in size (1.17 acre) and a public realm designed for the 21st Century can easily accomplish the same aims. In addition, our plan calls for direct job creation through the creation of a small business district on site of Parcel 5.

Placemaking is about creating centers of long-term prosperity that can be relied upon. We continue to believe a center of social, cultural, and economic activity is the best solution to creating a truly vibrant downtown.

- Benjamin Woelk

thisisnotapark.com

10 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Benjamin Woelk on 08/24/2016 at 12:21 AM

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