Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Home / Today's Top Stories / Morgan, Rothschild state case for Parcel 5 project

Morgan, Rothschild state case for Parcel 5 project

Bob Morgan and Arnie Rothschild speaking to Rochester Rotary Club on Sept. 19.

Bob Morgan and Arnie Rothschild speaking to Rochester Rotary Club on Tuesday, Sept. 19.

The Rochester Broadway Theatre League’s Arnie Rothschild and Morgan Management’s Robert Morgan cited economic growth, downtown revitalization and the storied history of Rochester’s arts community as they made their case for the ambitious performing arts center at the site of Midtown’s Parcel 5.

“For years in Rochester, nothing got built without Xerox, Kodak or Bausch and Lomb’s involvement,” Rothschild said, speaking to the Rochester Rotary Club on Sept. 19. “No matter what we say, someone says we can’t do that. This is not just a performing arts center, this is downtown revitalization.”

The massive, $135 million undertaking, which would include a 3,000 seat theater, a 150-unit housing development and a 1,700 parking space underground garage, has been the subject of contention among city residents since  Mayor Lovely Warren accepted the proposal in April. Critics and proponents of an open civil space at the cite, under the name “Free Parcel 5,” call the project a glassy boondoggle that will further economically segregate an already divided downtown and only benefit suburbanites looking to spend an evening in the city. Many have compared the project to former mayor William Johnson’s infamous “Fast Ferry” project: a gaudy taxpayer burden destined to have its curtains drawn early just as the ferry was economically sunk.

Rothschild refutes this claim vehemently, arguing that the PAC will serve as a critical economic driver.

“Rochester is a great arts and entertainment town, just as Syracuse is a great college sports town and just as Buffalo is a great professional sports town,” Rothschild said. “This will create a huge number of jobs.”

The vision of Rothschild’s Golisano Center for the Performing Arts, an homage to the billionaire Rochester native who has pledged $25 million to the project, features a piazza-themed outside area with regular outdoor festivities, an outdoor stage and a massive display of performances within its walls able to be viewed from East Main Street. Rothschild looked to Golisano’s dedication to the project on proof of its feasibility.

“Tom Golisano has never been involved in a project like this,” Rothschild said. “Yet, as he reviewed the project, he agreed that it was important.”

Morgan, whose company is developing the lofty high-rises that will cap the center, called the project “iconic.”

“It’s definitely needed by the city,” Morgan said. “I’ve traveled to a lot of different cities, and it became clear to me that we need something like this.”

While a matter of dispute, with opposition to the project claiming the economic impact would be negligible, Rothschild estimated three-fold economic impact for each ticket: for every $1 dollar in tickets sales, $3 of economic impact will be clocked in the form of restaurant, shop and hotel sales. With a projected $18.5 million in ticket sales, Rothschild estimated a total of $55 million in economic impact per year.

However, the argument that the project will not support the local economy shows the disconnect between the proposal and the residency of downtown. According to a 2016 study by the Broadway Theatre League, from 2015 to 2016, 71 percent of touring Broadway show attendees were female, 91 percent were white and 52 percent reported an average income over $100,000. Rochester’s population, according to the U.S. Census, is 51.7 percent female, 43.7 percent white and 33.5 percent below the poverty line. The average age of attendees was 54, compared to an average age of 31.4 in Rochester.

Morgan argued that this project will attract new, more affluent residents back to Rochester.

“Downtown is coming back strong, and as it grows, people are going to want to live here,” Morgan said.

Ultimately, it was Rothschild’s stance that this project, with the promise of housing large-scale touring acts that are currently lost to Syracuse or Buffalo, is the future of downtown.

“Those who say it can’t be done need to get out of the way so we can do it,” Rothschild said.



  1. This Golusano Performng Arts Center is an absolute necessary economic driver to a revitalizing Downtown Rochester, the greater metropolitan areas identity and economic heart, will draw greater CONVENTION business as a Spectacular auxiliary facility for future convention business development!!! The fact that it will draw patronage from those with dollars to spend IN the city (Duh!) that desperately needs those dollars for Futher JOB CREATION is a necessity! The answer to ending poverty is not class warfare resentment and fanning hatred, but realizing the basic FACT of Life and self-respect those jobs performed well by Working hard & taking responsibility for one’s behavior is key to being a high self-esteem, constructive contributing adult, as equal members of the greater community. Making the downtown More Liveable is key to helping eliminating poverty because it’s long been proven in many successful cities as a powerful element in drawing business to central metro areas.
    A park,lively as it may be, would only draw pigeons and loiterers, with ZERO economic benefit to downtown ECONOMIC Revitalization and JOB CREATION!

  2. I think everyone has gotten out of the way for you Arnie … all you need to do is put up more of RBTL and others money to fund the difference.

  3. A new theater on Parcel 5 will not generate NEW economic activity. Arnie and company are merely moving their shows (and their purported economic activity) six blocks down Main Street from the corner of Prince Street to the corner of Elm Street!
    For anyone who thinks this will fly without taxpayer support, I have a bridge I want to sell you. The people who prepare economic feasibility studies have one job and one job only – to prove whatever it is that their employer wants to prove! Frontier Field had an economic feasibility study that showed it wouldn’t cost the tax payers a penny and County tax payers have been putting over a million dollars a year into it nearly every year since it was built. The soccer stadium had a feasibility study that showed it wouldn’t cost taxpayers anything and this year City taxpayers are dumping over $500,000 into it. And yes, there is the fast ferry disaster! How many of these economic drains can local taxpayers be saddled with?
    Mr. Golisano’s money should be used to renovate the Auditorium Theater into a first class facility and have money left over.


Check Also

three+one: helping public entities turn dormant dollars into strong assets (access required)

Joe Rulison took a chance when he co-founded a fintech business that focused on underserved markets.  The result was three+one, ...

So much more than a store: Growth of Goodwill & employees at heart of it all (access required)

This year has been exciting for us at Goodwill of the Finger Lakes. We’ve seen a significant trajectory of growth ...

NextCorps’ Embark Accelerator positions Rochester as no-code software development hub (access required)

In its first year, Nextcorps’ Embark — a business accelerator program that fosters the startup of viable software companies — ...

Best Places to Work For DEI honorees announced (access required)

The Rochester Business Journal has announced the honorees for the inaugural Best Places to Work For DEI awards. This regional ...

Proposed DOL independent contractor test may “bug” some employers (access required)

During a college summer break, rather than return to the same-old internship, I decided that it was time go west ...

Genesee Keg Tree lighting on tap tonight, Roc Holiday Village opens this weekend (access required)

The Genesee Keg Tree will be lit at 6:30 p.m. Friday night, paying homage to New York’s oldest brewery and the ...

CDS Life Transitions (access required)

CDS Life Transitions (CDSLT) announces that Kate Wagner, currently executive director of Prime Care Coordination, has been named the executive ...