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Crime tops downtown living concerns

Roughly 60 percent of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll say concerns about crime would dissuade them from moving downtown or remaining a downtown resident.

Limited downtown stores and services ranked second on the list of concerns, followed by poor-performing city schools.

A recent RBJ Power Breakfast event focused on the revival of residential real estate in downtown Rochester. More than 6,100 people now live downtown, nearly double the population in 2000, and a number of residential projects are in the works. Among them:

  • Tower280, the renamed Midtown Tower, a joint venture of Buckingham Properties and Morgan Management that will have close to 180 trendy apartments on its upper floors;
  • The Sibley Building, a redevelopment project by Boston-based Winn Development Inc. that will have high-end apartments and senior housing;
  • 88 Elm St., 50 Chestnut St. and the Hiram Sibley building, all projects of DHD Ventures LLC;
  • Charlotte Square, a development by Home Leasing LLC with plans for upscale apartments and for-sale townhomes; and
  • Chase Tower, whose new owner—Gallina Development Corp.—plans 130 to 150 residential units.

Of those who responded to this week’s poll, 8 percent live downtown, and nearly a third don’t currently live downtown but are interested in living there.

Nearly two-thirds of those interested in making downtown their home say they would prefer to own rather than rent.

More than 620 readers participated in this week’s poll, conducted May 18 and 19.

Do you currently live in downtown Rochester or have interest in living there?
Live in downtown Rochester: 8%
Do not live downtown, but have interest in living there: 32%
Do not live downtown, and do not have interest in living there: 60%

If you live downtown or have interest in living there, what is your preference: rent or own?
Own: 63%
Rent: 37%

What factors would dissuade you from moving downtown or, if you already live there, remaining a downtown resident? (Respondents selected all that applied.)

  • Crime concerns: 61%
  • Few downtown stores and services: 58%
  • Poor-performing city schools: 40%
  • Family, friends do not live downtown: 27%
  • Costs: 6%
  • Limited residential options currently: 25%
  • Other: 12%

For information on how the Snap Polls are conducted, click here.

COMMENTS:
We moved from the suburbs with our young kids (ages 14 and 12). Both kids are attending a private school. So there was no need to pay high school taxes in Penfield. We have everything at our fingertips: Red Wings baseball, Amerks hockey, basketball, theater, festivals almost every weekend. Not to mention some of the best local eateries around! I hope I never have to move back to the suburbs!
—Donald Swartz

I live downtown and love the convenience of being near most everything. The city schools would be a barrier for many, but I have no children.
—Paul Haney

I think living downtown could be great, and I know people who do live there. I like my yard and garden space, though, and living on a residential street close to downtown.
—Margie Campaigne, Margie’s Green Home Consulting

When Bob Duffy and the City Council killed the Renaissance Square project, my interest in downtown dropped considerably. It would have been a great project for that central stretch of Main Street, which is such an eyesore. Having said that, I love the Eastman Theatre and Gibbs Street area and would consider moving there in retirement if the city did something about the dark, dirty streets and crime.
—Bob Sarbane

Rochester’s downtown is becoming more livable again, especially on the outskirts of downtown. If I could find a loft condo with an open floor plan, for sale rather than for rent and multiple bedrooms with 2,000 square feet or more, I’d consider moving.
—Lee Drake, CEO, OS-Cubed Inc.

I work downtown, and my daughter attends a high school that is not far from the downtown area. We would love to live in the downtown area.
—Catherin Ray

There’s an electric and eclectic buzz downtown, and it continues to get better. Frankly, the suburbs are boring and sterile. If you don’t have anything keeping you anchored to the ’burbs, come downtown where all the “cool kids” play.
—Rich Calabrese Jr., Rochester.

We loved living in Brighton for many years, but living downtown is the best thing we ever did. The neighbors are great and we walk wherever we want to go.
—Tom Fink

The East End area is really attractive; Hart’s and Wegmans are convenient, the condos seem nice, doesn’t feel like a high-crime area, and there’s plenty of nightlife—my wife and I would consider it as we gracefully age.
—Lou Calarese,
Applied Audio & Theatre Supply

If I were younger, childless, not already a homeowner, and not deeply involved in my current community, I would live downtown in a heartbeat. For better or for worse, however, that ship has long sailed.
—David Englert, Sodus

Nice to see some momentum for downtown and city living, but so much more to do. Hopefully more work will be done north and west of downtown as well (outside the Inner Loop) where poverty persists at such an extreme level. Once families feel comfortable staying/moving downtown and into the city is when real change will take place.
—Keith Newcomer

I’ve read that to revitalize an area like downtown Rochester, you need 10,000 people. At 6,100, we are over halfway there. With Buckingham Properties still investing in mixed-use developments, we should soon reach that 10,000-person goal. At 10,000 citizens, the restaurants and stores begin to come on their own, without any federal, state or city subsidies.
—Clifford Jacobson M.D.

5/22/15 (c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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