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Most readers support plan for Parcel 5

A large majority of respondents to this week’s RBJ Snap Poll supports the city of Rochester’s decision last week that Parcel 5 at Midtown will be home to the Golisano Center for the Performing Arts and Tower with housing, retail shops, restaurants and additional parking.

Parcel 5 is one of the Midtown development parcels created by the demolition of Midtown Plaza in 2011. It is viewed by many as key a piece of downtown development.

The $130 million project is a joint venture between Morgan Communities LLC and the Rochester Broadway Theatre League Inc. The venture is expected to create a combined 776 jobs—610 construction jobs and 166 permanent jobs—and reinvigorate the city center with entertainment, housing, commerce, shops and restaurants, the city said.

The proposed project is to include a roughly 3,000-seat performing arts center as proposed by RBTL. The center will be combined with a residential tower from Morgan Communities comprising approximately 150 rental units. Some of the units will be affordable housing and others will be market rate. The residential tower is to include retail shops and restaurants at street level.

Project developers have agreed to adopt a “Rochester First” hiring policy for the permanent jobs at the facility. The selected proposal received $25 million from philanthropist Thomas Golisano, the billionaire founder of Paychex Inc., for the theater, officials said.

The project’s financial details are still to come.

The public green space between Parcel 5 and Elm Street will remain, and the developers will seek to incorporate additional green building design elements into the project, the city said.

Some 470 readers participated in this week’s Snap Poll, which was conducted April 10 and 11.

What is your opinion on the chosen plan for Parcel 5?

Support it strongly 34%

Support it 43%

Oppose it 14%

Oppose it strongly 10%

Comments:

I’d support it strongly if I knew it had funding. And I’m not convinced we need more high-end housing.
—Jay Ross

So far it sounds good to me and the drawings look beautiful. I say go for it, but continue to think about green space downtown. With that being said, I challenge all to make sure parking is adequate and the Skyway is re-established. A lot of the architectural pictures with buildings and streetscapes only seem to capture the summerlike weather, but reality is Rochester has six-to-seven months of winter or wet weather. If the theater is scheduled to be used year-round, assume patrons will dress up, but want to be safe, warm and dry whenever possible in the winter weather. This especially may apply to tourists or visitors downtown. This will put continued pressure on the Rochester (City) Council and leadership to make sure the filled-in Inner Loop is developed flawlessly and uniquely. To me this is a bigger opportunity and even more visibility than Parcel 5.
—Keith Newcomer

Absolutely the best choice to bring about a total resurgence for Rochester. To assure success, be sure all financials are tight.
—Karen Kall, On Kall Marketing

I support the plan, but I deeply regret the loss of open space/green space at that end of downtown. I am also concerned that the city or state not be responsible for ongoing expenses for the operation or maintenance of the theater. And what is to become of the Auditorium Theatre and its site?
—Greg Franklin

Parcel 5 is a wonderful and unique outdoor space. It should be developed as an urban park for continued use as festival location.
—Kate Kressmann-Kehoe

We need good schools. Once we have schools that are so good they attract people from all over the country to live in the city so they can send their children to the outstanding schools, we should concentrate on public safety. Once it is possible to leave a laptop on the seat of an unlocked car and not expect it to be stolen, we should proceed to the luxury items, like the proposal for Parcel 5. In summary, I believe Parcel 5 demonstrates we have our priorities mixed up!
—David Rubin, retired

There are 35 theater/event venues within a 15-mile radius of downtown. What will be the impact on these venues, which include the Eastman Theater, Lyric Opera, Geva Theatre, Blue Cross Arena and the convention center, if this performing arts center is built? Why not renovate the historic and beautiful Auditorium Theatre, which has been an anchor on East Main Street? What is most disturbing is that the Gallina plan, which included green space, retail and housing, was chosen and then the rug was pulled out from under them. And funding for the proposed arts center is very fuzzy. Is this how the city operates?
—Joanna Grosodonia

I would have liked to seen this used for more green space and make downtown more livable for everyone. This sounds like another island for the rich and elite. Why not put the performing arts center at the MCC campus and model it after the UB center. I hope I’m wrong and this isn’t another city boondoggle.
—Daniel Herpst, Rochester

My one concern would be the rental units. Ownership promotes more serious effort toward proper upkeep and invites people with financial resources to patronize the shopping areas and the performing arts theater. I hope that the rental management group will enforce sensible and consistent property maintenance, unlike what I’ve seen in other center city rental space.
—Wayne Donner, Rush

As always with reservations. How much will it cost the taxpayers?
—Donald Pedersen

I applaud Golisano for stepping up with money, but where the other $105 million is coming from is kind of important. Right now, it’s a concept not a plan.
—Matt Connolly

“The city of Rochester is finally modernizing! The new performing arts center will be at the hub of activity. So exciting for the future of our city. All of the new developments are changing the face of Rochester and the new Golisano Performing Arts Center just puts a smile on it. It’s the best location for it.  Thank you, Mr. Golisano!
—Laurie Sagona,
Sundance Marketing

If this new structure is architecturally interesting and not just another box that is easy to build, then I will support it. If the rendering that is out there is final, then I’m not excited to see another dull building go up opposite the dull building that now houses the Democrat and Chronicle offices. Is Rochester so conservative that it has to play it safe or just unimaginative? Where’s the vision? For $130 million we should get a building that draws us to downtown and that would be exciting to be in. Think big like George Eastman did and 100 years later you will have a building that is still admired.
—Irene Burke

Why does the city need a new performing arts center, and who keeps pushing it over the last 20 years? Follow the money. Special interest groups? Who are the landowners of surrounding properties at Main and Clinton?
—Michael Higgins

4/14/2017 (c) 2017 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-363-7269 or e-mail madams@bridgetowermedia.com.

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