Admittedly, we focus a lot of our attention on downtown. This is for many good reasons: We live there; we own a home there; we participate in a city Neighborhood Association; and currently, downtown has a real lot going for it. Not to mention we buy into the conventional wisdom that a strong center core can only benefit the entire surrounding region.
But I promise you this post is different. It's not about downtown. It's about finding the diamonds in the rough, if you will, on the outskirts of Center City. In our travels, we see so many beautiful buildings that we believe can be rehabbed into amazing things - whether that be apartments, condos, mixed-use properties, retail shops - whatever - that all have so much potential for future use. Beware - some, if not all of these buildings you may be inclined to think to yourself that it's just not possible. But I retort - did the pundits and polls think a Trump Presidency was either? I need not say more, whatever side you're on.
Please don't get caught up with the wording in the title - condo, apartment, whatever it is - this post is not about the feasibility of one or the other...let's call it a brainstorming session. Without further adieu, here are 10 Buildings That Would Make Great Condos - Not in Downtown.
690 St. Paul Street
Current use: 4 buildings, (3 of them interconnected, 7 stories) on 4.7 acres; sits largely underutilized except for a portion being used by the District administration offices of the RCSD and various other educational uses
Why it's an opportunity: Expansive, historical Bausch & Lomb facility with the potential to have hundreds of units; Walking distance to Genesee Brew House and the Genesee Riverway Trail
Challenges: Has been a Brownfield clean-up site since 2009; one would want to make sure the site was fully safe of environmental contaminants before living quarters were built
40 Jay Street
Current use: Empty; owned by Webster Properties who is in the process of transforming the building for its next use
Why it's an opportunity: A beautiful ca. 1900 building walking distance to 2 stadiums, the new MCC campus at Kodak, High Falls, and much more
Can you vision it?: The Jay Street neighborhood is one of the city's gems: DiPaolo's Bakery, the new Made On State facility, and even tightly knit alleyways give this area its Brooklyn'esque charm and potential; see first picture at top for a look inside
280 Lyell Avenue
Current use: Last used as a storage facility; mostly vacant
Why it's an opportunity: 5 floors in the former "Tent City" warehouse; surprisingly good amount of parking around the site; close to Rhinos Stadium and the beautiful Jones Square Park
The vision: Apartments or condos in this brick building to bring much needed TLC to this struggling neighborhood
97-101 Dewey Avenue
Current use: Used as a warehouse and distribution center
Why it's an opportunity: Looks like it's in great shape with the potential for big, expansive windows
Do you have the energy?: Wake up in your exposed-brick city loft and walk down to Edgerton Park, Jones Square, or Rhinos Stadium - remember, you invested in it, therefore you're making great things happen in the neighborhood to protect your investment
367 Orchard Street
Current use: warehouse for Dock Hardware (desks, chairs, tables, etc.)
Why it's an opportunity: Close to Rhinos Stadium and seemingly plenty of parking
Did you know?: This building is full of thrift items for sale to the general public; no specific website or information, you just have to call Bob to set up an appointment to see what's inside
89 Canal Street
Current use: Owned by Buckingham Properties; largely vacant
Why it's an opportunity: Expansive, historical manufacturing facility once home to the famed Cunningham Carriages; many units potentially available to transform the entire block; close to downtown and 1872 Cafe; DePaul Properties has already rehabbed adjacent historical building at 33 Litchfield Street
Here's the Vision: The west end opening of the old subway bed starts close to here; redo the subway into a usable, sustainable public attraction, then you have a unique connection to downtown
Did you know?: The Glazer family offered this expansive, former Volunteers of America warehouse site to help the homeless back in 2015 for temporary shelter from the cold
5 Flint Street
Current use: Vacant, Wall/Therapy mural by ROA, Untitled
Why it's an opportunity: Part of a much larger complex shown below that would give residents the opportunity to live on the Genesee Riverway Trail, close to UofR, downtown; served as an apartment complex for a short time
The Vision: The building is part of a historical Vacuum Oil Refinery site and sits on a Brownfield Opportunity Area; clean the contamination up and you have a tucked-away, cool, urban complex that can be filled with young and old alike, having the best of the 19th Ward and Highland neighborhoods at their disposal
920 -936 Exchange Street Complex
Current use: Largely underutilized, some sections used for storage and distribution facilities
Why it's an opportunity: Same area as 5 Flint, these structures present an opportunity for a development company to completely revamp an entire 3-acre section of the city
The Vision: Beautiful windows inside the charm of industrial chic buildings with a historic water tower, the area not only would present the best of two great neighborhoods, but also a chance to utilize the Genesee Riverfront in a way that's not being done here in the city
Are you up for the challenge? Maybe YOU will be the next developer in our city to not only change a building, but also positively affect the surrounding neighborhood along with it. That's how we're going to continually build up this city.
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Jason is co-Founder of the Rochesteriat. The message is simple - there's opportunity all around us. Get involved in your city - proactively take a stance and do something to better a building, the streets, and the neighborhoods. It's easier than you think. Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.