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Brighton’s Empire 

Brighton's Empire

The county's plan to award Empire Zone status to more office buildings in Brighton will be discussed by town officials next week.

            The county wants to include in its Empire Zone the following properties: 200 Canal View Boulevard; a portion of The Park at Allens Creek on Allens Creek Road; 100, 200, and 300 Meridian Centre; 172 Metro Park; 70 and 80 Linden Oaks Office Park; portions of 10 and 30 Hagen Drive, and 2440 and 2452 West Henrietta Road.

            Empire Zone status offers major tax incentives --- most paid for by the state --- to businesses located in them. The county must get the Brighton Town Board's approval, however.

            The town board's public-works committee will take up the request at its meeting on Monday night, April 26 --- probably about 8 o'clock, says committee chair Ray Tierney III. The meeting will be held in the auditorium of the BrightonTown Hall. The request will be considered by the town board itself at its meeting on Wednesday, April 28. That meeting is at 7 p.m. at the town hall.

Jazz fest line-up

Jazz lovers can count on a sizable slice of heaven in early June. The Rochester International Jazz Festival will be back for the third annual event from June 4 to 12 with an impressive artist line-up including Oscar Peterson, Bobby McFerrin, James "Blood" Ulmer, and Marian McPartland. And it continues to grow; this year's model features more than 70 jazz artists and groups

            Peterson's performance is sure to be the can't-miss event of a festival that is packed with great pianists; he's been a keyboard phenomenon for more than half a century. Frequent visits to Rochester, her long-running Piano Jazz radio show, and a spirit of adventure that won't quit have made McPartland a favorite with local crowds.

            If past performance is any indication, Bobby McFerrin & Jack De Johnette should do more with voice and percussion than is humanly possible. But if that's not enough for you, pianist Brad Mehldau, who can move effortlessly from the cerebral to a light-hearted Beatles tune, will be opening the concert.

            Festival producer John Nugent has consistently booked the finest local acts, and this year is no exception. The Campbell Brothers Sacred Steel Guitar perform absolutely magical jazz-inflected gospel music that has won them an international following. Pianist Vijay Iyer began honing his musical skills locally. Now Iyer, who will perform with saxophonist RudreshManthrappa, is one of the most widely respected cutting-edge players on the national scene. Other excellent musicians with local connections include trombonist Dave Gibson and pianist Deanna Witkowski.

            The wealth of talent includes the great pianist Cedar Walton whose keyboard prowess and composing skills have been consistently brilliant since his early days with Art Blakey. Brazilian-born Eliane Elias, another pianist who will bring her quartet to the festival, has been turning heads with her dazzling technique for two decades. Other highlights include saxophonist Eric Alexander's Trio, trumpeter Wallace Roney's Quartet, pianist-singer Mose Allison, gospel great Yolanda Adams, Harold Danko, and The Rite of Strings featuring Stanley Clarke, Jean Luc Ponty, and Al DiMeola. For a complete schedule, artist profiles, and MP3 samples visit

            There will be several new features and more community oriented free concerts. Gibbs Street will become Jazz Street, closed to traffic and open to live music on an outdoor Jazz Stage at the corner of Gibbs and East Main Streets. On both festival weekends there will be free music from 4 to 11 p.m. Friday through Sunday, ranging from high school groups to national acts like Paul Cebar & The Milwaukeeans and the Latin Giants of Jazz, featuring musicians from Tito Puente's Orchestra.

            There will also be a new ClubPass venue: the 10,000-square-foot Club Pass Big Tent at the corner of Gibbs Street and East Main Street, with bar and food service provided by Tapas 151.

            The ClubPass is still the great bargain of the festival, covering admission for more than 70 performances at the tent, The Montage Grille, Milestones, Max of Eastman Place, the Little Theatre, Kilbourn Hall, and the CrownePlaza's State Street Bar & Grill. The cost is $65 in advance (plus service charge) until April 30, and $75 after that date. In other words, for the price of four or five CDs you can see dozens of acts live.

            All tickets, including the ClubPass, are available at Ticketmaster/Ticket Express outlets and at Ticketed show prices range from $15 to $65. Tickets go on sale April 16.

Wegmans on East

Anyone who has ever tried to shop at the East Avenue Wegmans on a Sunday knows the perils that frequently await: parking shortages, jammed aisles, long lines. Wegmans recognizes that it has outgrown its East Avenue location, and it plans to expand the store to nearly twice its size.

            But what's that going to do to the rest of East Avenue towards Winton? Well, for now, Wegmans officials are keeping their plans under wraps.

            "We are not sharing specific details about the concept plan because it is preliminary, because it is a concept," says Jo Natale, Wegmans' manager of consumer services and media relations.

            Wegmans now owns nearly all the property along its side of East Avenue, from the store to Winton Road. And its expansion will require the demolition of all the property it has acquired.

            So those storefronts will be gone, only to possibly be replaced by... more storefronts.

            Sib Petix is president of the Culver-University-East Neighborhood Group. His association, along with other nearby neighborhood groups, has reviewed Wegmans' concept plan.

            "Along East Avenue, we recommended a look that would be similar to what you would find in late 19th-century and early 20th-century commercial districts --- a series of storefronts," Petix says. "It would be similar to what you'd find along Park Avenue near Berkeley Street, but they'd be facades. There would be windows that would at least partially open up into the store and show activity in the store, for example a flower shop or a bakery. But Wegmans couldn't promise that all the windows would open up into store activity. Some would just be display windows."

            As for the store itself, much of the additional square footage will be taken up by kitchen space and a seating area.

            "People like that Wegmans because of its size," Petix says. "We've been emphasizing that we'd like them to keep the scale of the store somewhat similar, as far as the shopping area. If they can keep it somewhat walkable, it'll be good for their East Avenue customers, because senior citizens don't like to walk around a lot and younger people like to run in and out. So the actual shopping area will increase, but not that dramatically, even though the actual square footage is doubling in size."

            But, as Natale insists, we're a long way from any final decisions on the store and its impact on the area.

            "There's a dialogue going on at this point [with neighborhood groups] and we want to continue that dialogue," she says.

            Recommendations from neighborhood associations are just that --- recommendations. But public hearings will be held by the city on the project before the city grants approval. In the meantime, Petix says his neighborhood group will be meeting on this and other matters on Wednesday, April 21, at the Brighton Presbyterian Church, 1775 East Avenue.

            Any timeline for the project at this point is tentative. But Petix says he's been told it will require one full year of planning, and another full year of construction. According to Natale, much of the timing will depend on other projects Wegmans has in store.

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