More than $650 million is being pumped into the downtown Rochester area on new projects and developments.
“Between the year 2000 and 2010. the county grew by 1.5 percent. Downtown grew by 11.5,” Rochester Downtown Development Corporation President Heidi Zimmer-Meyer said. “Last century was all about suburbanization and building outward. This is the century of the city.”
Civic leaders highlighted six major projects Friday at the Downtown Rising event.
These projects include the development of residential and retail space on St. Paul Street called the Hive@155, Alexander Park’s transformation into retail, commercial and residential space, and Hilton Garden Inn’s project to convert a section of Main Street into a pub and restaurant.
“The projects are really making a difference in the landscape down here,” Zimmer-Meyer said. “If you come down to Main and Clinton in three years, even two years, you won’t recognize where you are.”
A large part of the discussion surrounded the Inner Loop East project. Zimmer-Meyer said by filling in the loop with a complete city street, they hope to draw more people in from the southern part of the city and encourage others to ride and bike in that area.
“We’ve got investment and all sorts of development pumping back into downtown and what we need to do is reconnect those neighborhoods, because it’s that urban fabric that is drawing investors and residents and companies,” Zimmer-Meyer said.
Inside the Inner Loop, The Strong National Museum of Play says it will unveil a $4 million state-of-the-art museum installation by the fall of 2015. President and CEO G. Rollie Adams estimates it will draw an additional 40,000 visitors every year.
“Everyone benefits from progress in the city; bringing in additional people to live downtown, bringing in additional businesses, construction projects, new enterprises starting up,” Adams said. “We all grow together.”
Although Geva Theatre Center marking director Kevin Sweeney said Rochester rivals other big cities in terms of art and entertainment, he wouldn’t mind seeing more nightlife activities.
“That’s one thing that we hear a lot from our patrons when they walk out of Geva Theatre at night, there’s just nothing right in walking distance, but there has been some work,” Sweeney said. “We have a couple of restaurants now, another one under construction within two minutes of Geva and we’re right up the block from Dinosaurs, I keep telling them.”
All agree it will take a little bit of everything for the downtown to continue to grow and thrive.
“All stars have lined up and we’re really seeing it happen,” Zimmer-Meyer said. “There’s a lot of money behind it. It’s a very very exciting time to be in Rochester.”
Of the downtown projects being work on, 15 of them are housing projects. Nine are old buildings being renovated.