Downtown Rochester is coming to life
The Editorial Board, ROC
When hope for Renaissance Square was extinguished some five years ago, many saw downtown Rochester’s revival as a mere pipe dream, with stubborn political and economic realities parked squarely in the way of large-scale progress. However, in 2014 the city center is showing welcome signs of life unseen in recent years.
For the Flower City to fully reveal itself as a premier U.S. city, Rochester’s champions at the local, state and federal levels must maintain and augment the momentum they have gained of late.
Like neighboring Buffalo, whose resurgence is a pet project of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Rochester is ready to make moves. State programs like START-UP NY and federal ones like the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership give reason to believe Rochester could secure a blue-chip player like IBM, which will soon bring 500 jobs to Buffalo.
With the regional bus company’s Mortimer Street transit center coming online this November, Main Street’s retail prospects are brightening. Add the influential voice of U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, who this week stumped for $1.6 million in federal funding to add parking spaces to the city’s main drag, and images of vibrant storefronts and downtown commerce (beyond the work day) come into focus.
Chalk as another win for downtown Datto Inc.’s decision to bring operations to this city. Taking advantage of START-UP NY incentives, Datto plans to bring 70 new jobs to the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship (affiliated with Rochester Institute of Technology) on Franklin Street.
With Datto’s arrival and similar infusions — of jobs and of people — connected to START-UP and Eastman Business Park in the pipeline, private developers like Buckingham Properties, Morgan Management and WinnDevelopment look rightfully bullish on downtown as they rehab millions of square feet of commercial and residential space. And (at last) a downtown grocery store, Hart’s, will be there to serve their tenants.
Meanwhile, City Hall has indicated that the new neighborhood policing model should maintain a patrol division zeroing on Center City and the nearby Corn Hill, High Falls, South Wedge and Brown Square neighborhoods. Maintaining confidence in public safety is key to adding to the roughly 6,000 people who rest their heads downtown.
This new level of activity is good for the city’s financial health — rebuilding a wilted tax base. The region surrounding the city, too, can benefit from heightened status and more power to pull in industry pace-setters, and jobs. It’s not a bad time to bet on Rochester.