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High-profile downtown projects on track

By: Mike Murphy//June 4, 2013

High-profile downtown projects on track

By: Mike Murphy//June 4, 2013

Some first-floor and streetscape improvements could be ready by summer at the Sibley Building. Nearby is Rochester Institute of Technology’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship, in the former Rochester Savings Bank at 40 Franklin St. Mike Murphy

A sign that Downtown Rochester may be going to the dogs actually would be a positive development.

A dog park will be included as part of the trendy — and pet-friendly — housing project known as The Tower at Midtown, according to developer Larry Glazer, CEO and managing partner of Buckingham Properties.

Work on the overall Midtown project, which includes accompanying retail and office space at the former Midtown Plaza site, is expected to begin this summer, Glazer said.

Glazer’s firm and Morgan Management are partnering on the project that, along with plans for the Xerox tower the Buckingham now owns, creates a new neighborhood Glazer coined the “Tower District.”

Tower residents, including their pets, could begin to be part of the new neighborhood by the end of next year, when tenants are expected to begin moving in, Glazer said. The company also is talking with potential commercial and office tenants.

“We’re very excited about the area,” Glazer said. “We believe there is a great future here and a rebirth of Downtown Rochester.”

The community was briefed on the status of about $683 million in downtown development funds in the pipeline as part of the Rochester Downtown Development Corp.’s annual Downtown Rising luncheon June 4.

Gilbert Winn

Gilbert Winn, managing principal at building owner Winn Properties, said the Sibley renovation project — even without a tenant the size of the Monroe Community College Damon City Campus, for which the Monroe County Legislature approved a move to State Street — remains the focus of the Massachusetts firm.

Some work has been completed, including a new $350,000 security system and renovated stairway, Winn said. A lot of the work will be completed by the summer, including a new façade and streetscape.

The plan for the first floor of the iconic Rochester building includes a Rochester police substation, which would be across from the transit center, now under construction. Also a mixed-use project, the tower will be used for housing.

Each housing, office and retail component will have separate entrances. There still is a plan for an institutional use, Winn said.

“We are hoping MCC will stay,” Winn said. “If they don’t, we’ll look for other institutions.”

Rochester Institute of Technology is awaiting word on grants that would help the college open its Center for Urban Entrepreneurship in the fall. Mike Murphy

Near the Sibley Building is Rochester Institute of Technology’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship, in the former Rochester Savings Bank at 40 Franklin St.

The college is awaiting word on grant money that would help the facility open in the fall, according to dt ogilvie, dean and professor of urban entrepreneurship at RIT.

The college would offer meeting rooms, small auditorium and classroom and incubator space for a host of business programs designed to put people in the city to work and make Rochester a livable city, ogilvie said.

“Our vision is to create wealth in Rochester,” ogilvie said.

Not all of the projects involve high rises and high prices.

A feasibility study for the Roc City Skatepark could be done by summer. Ground is expected to be broken on the $3 million urban park proposed for land underneath and adjacent to the Frederick Douglass-Susan B. Anthony Memorial Bridge in 2015.

The park, according to developer James Maddison, could lead to $1.8 million a year in retail activity.

The nonprofit Friends of the Garden Aerial recently purchased property at the High Falls gorge, which would lead to a walking bridge over the falls and integrate the gorge with the rest of Rochester and its neighborhoods, according to Michael Philipson, co-founder and board chairman of the organization.

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