Last week saw the first public forum on the future of Parcel 5 since Mayor Lovely Warren announced in April that the Golisano Performing Arts Center had been selected for the site.
People packed City Hall to debate not only that plan, but the process for selecting it. Since the winning project was named, some have decried the lack of government transparency and minimal opportunity for public input.
The $130 million performing arts center—a joint venture between Morgan Communities LLC and the Rochester Broadway Theatre League Inc.—is expected to create a combined 776 jobs—610 construction jobs and 166 permanent jobs.
Some have questioned whether the project will really benefit the city, and have wondered about its impact on the local arts organizations that already operate downtown.
Geva Theatre Center Artistic Director Mark Cuddy noted that there are more than 500 permanent arts and cultural jobs at just three downtown organizations that could be affected by the new project. “Will this project have a negative impact on the existing jobs in this community?” Cuddy said. “Arts and cultural jobs should have just as much importance as construction jobs.”
This week’s Snap Poll asks readers their views on the process for deciding on a project for Parcel 5. A majority—60 percent—disagree with both the process and the winning project.
More than 350 participated in this week’s poll conducted Aug. 15 and 16.
How do you feel about the selection process for developing Parcel 5?
It was fair, and the performing arts center should move forward — 16%
It was fair, but I don’t support the performing arts center — 6%
It was unfair, but the performing arts center should move forward — 18%
It was unfair, and I don’t support the performing arts center — 60%
While I support a Performing Arts Center in the Rochester area, I question whether Parcel 5 is the right location and whether it should be part of a project including housing and retail establishments. I grow more disappointed each day with our society’s dependence on getting funding from state and local governments to complete projects, many of which have failed after receiving the funding. If a Performing Arts Center is to survive, it will need to be strategically located where it can secure the widest and most profitable usage and it will need to be financed by people whose stake in the game is corporate and/or personal and not through government funding.
— Robert Zinnecker, Penfield
The performing arts center on Parcel 5 will complement the other arts centers and should move forward. As a frequent supporter of RBTL performances, Geva theater plays and RPO concerts, there is room for all of these entities plus Downstairs Cabaret, etc. The new PAC and accompanying entities will add excitement and give us another reason to come to the Center City of Rochester. I am looking forward to it and am loving seeing the new face of downtown unfold.
— Laurie Sagona, Sundance Marketing
A process that started open and transparent ended up closed and opaque. This is a great example of everything that is wrong in city government.
— Aaron Hilger
“If you build it they will come” is NOT a good business strategy…
— David Lamb, Rochester
We have elected officials to make these decisions for us. If we bog it down in endless discussions it will never get done. Additionally, we need a revenue producing project there not another public park. This is important not only for our residents but for tourists as well as potential new residents to our community.
— Bob Cherry
For more than ten years, there has been little community support for a 3,000 seat theater, and I am very concerned that the Auditorium will be abandoned if a new theater is built. The property by Main & Clinton holds real value in the years ahead, but there is no need to make a poor decision in haste. Let some of the projects nearby come to fruition, and we will have a better answer as to what is best for Parcel Five. Walkability is the key to a vibrant downtown, and I hope to see a mixed-use building erected on that site. Street-level retailing, business offices above, and residential on the upper floors. About 12-15 stories high. Retain the existing green space behind it.
— Carlos Mercado
Although inspiring to have a nice theater like this in ROC, it is impractical. Does this make Geva and other venues that have community support obsolete? RBTL estimates there will be a show around 180 days a year, really? Seems like everyone is putting up the money from my readings except RBTL who appears will own and operate it and will get a lot of parking revenue. Why should RBTL own it and gain any tax advantages with minimal skin in the game? Minimal risk in and all the rewards when the net is tabulated. It’s nice to build this castle but what happens when maintenance costs cannot be met? Will Mayor Warren or other community supporters make up the difference? I think not …
— Hugh Rundle, Webster
I support the use of Parcel 5 as a flexible and welcoming public space with small vendors and significant open space for events, not unlike Public Market Squares found in many European cities. This sort of use has been tested over centuries and tends to bring cities together for common purposes. This sort of use is accessible to the larger urban community and not just to a small elite community of users. A theater could easily be built nearby, in a less central location, if it is even needed. A public space also serves to make the center city more attractive to downtown residents, especially the younger technical and entrepreneur class that our city has been trying to retain for decades.
— Gary Bogue
I do not agree with the performing arts center going there, but I don’t understand why some think the process to select was unfair. Seems like everyone had the chance to provide input and present ideas. I am always in favor of usable green space, especially space that can be used year round for various festivals. If it was up to me, I would use the money available to improve our existing facilities and expand where needed. Rochester already has some incredibly unique and interesting historic sites for performances, shows and music. Parcel 5 should tie in nicely with Inner Loop development and improvements to MLK Park.
— Keith Newcomer
So many issues here—the selection process, the actual design itself, the lack of community input into the outcome, the rush to push this through, the impact on existing cultural institutions and the lack of financing. It just doesn’t seem that this project was well thought out. I fear another fast ferry debacle with the city and its taxpayers paying the bill in the end.
— Irene Burke