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City sets Midtown demo schedule

City of Rochester Corporation Counsel Thomas Richards unveils the latest demolition schedule for Midtown Rising. Tom Wanamaker

City of Rochester Corporation Counsel Thomas Richards unveils the latest demolition schedule for Midtown Rising. Tom Wanamaker

By this time next year, Rochester’s Downtown could look radically different than it does today. The demolition of the Midtown Plaza is slated to begin in June.

At a press conference Wednesday at City Hall, Corporation Counsel Thomas Richards said that while the some of the overall project’s final details are still pending, the whole 8.5-acre area will open up as the work proceeds this summer.

“We hope that when we get done that this will look completely different — the whole look of Downtown will change,” Richards said. “It’s now a block — you can’t see through it. But [when demolition is completed] you’ll see open areas.”

The demolition schedule released Wednesday is as follows:

  • Phase 1 — Midtown Tower and southern portions of the Midtown Mall and Atrium, to be completed no later than Feb. 1, 2011.
  • Phase 2 — Seneca Building, Citizens Bank Building, Scheer Building, B. Forman Building and Wendy’s Building, to be completed no later than Feb. 1, 2011.
  • Phase 3 — Three Skywalk Bridges over East Main Street, South Clinton Avenue and Broad Street, to be completed no later than Sept. 1, 2010.
  • Phase 4 — McCurdy’s Building, Euclid Building, northern portions of Midtown Mall, the service tunnel and subsurface parking garage, and site restoration, to be completed no later than Oct. 3, 2011.

Richards said that once a demolition contractor is selected, more details will be released on precisely how adjacent streets and neighborhoods will be affected.

“We know we owe people a more specific description,” he said, adding that a Webcam will be set up to allow people to follow the demolition’s progress online. “If you’re having a bad day, you can watch us knock some bricks off a building.”

But while the demolition schedule is now set, the project’s final appearance is still somewhat up in the air.

A proposed performing arts center could take up two parcels or could be “buried” underground, Richards said. Likewise, the “skin” of the Midtown Tower will come off, but the building’s final exterior appearance has yet to be determined. Various streets currently running through the site may be re-routed or eliminated “as development opportunities present themselves,” Richards said.

“This illustrates that, as we move through the demolition, we have to make choices on how to accommodate things,” he said. “Planning for the infrastructure is ongoing so that once the demolition is completed we can move forward.”

In the end, the whole project is designed to keep people Downtown.

“One of the problems with the way Downtown is built is that it is built for getting in and out of as fast as you can go,” Richards said. “We want there to be a reason for people to be Downtown. We want people to stay.”