URBAN LIFE ||
Dear ROC Developer:
This is just a tiny portion of our "City Dreamer's list". Say what you want, but we're going BIG. We say, "Dream BIG, or go home". And because we're already home, the only thing we can do now is dream BIG.
Now, of course, there is so much more that goes into making these things happen - bringing in investments, navigating local/state politics, delegating the use of space - on and on. But for the sake of no argument, let us dream.
Here's to our future. the Rochesteriat
P.S. You don't have to get to it all this year, we understand good things take time. The end of 2015 would suffice. ; )
1. IKEA OK, this may be a guilty pleasure - cheap furniture with hard-to-read instructions. But it just makes sense. With more people moving to the city, and those homeowners and renters looking to buy inexpensive home goods, we can't believe this hasn't happened yet. With colleges abounding the Rochester area, as well as Buffalo and Syracuse at an approximate 1 hour drive to the west and east, an IKEA would kill it here - hands down, kill it.
Of course we don't like talking all this chainy-stuff too much because we're small business friendly, but who can argue with the fact that IKEA has the international brand power to make Rochester a destination city that it so craves, all the while providing hundreds of jobs for the local market…nonetheless, we're hardly the first to think up this idea...
2. Another grocery store - "Hart's Too"? Can you envision it? The frontage space on what is called South Ave extension has been modified with beautiful brand new windows. This is a part of Woodbury Place, something that we've mentioned once or twice in the last month or so. Those big beautiful windows seem very similar to the brand new downtown grocery store, Hart's Local Grocers, that opened up on August 15th. With one successful opening under their belt, we invite them over to the Washington Square Park Neighborhood to start their City of Rochester takeover. Please?
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If it's too early for rapid expansion, we could also see a 7-Eleven in this space. Who doesn't love having the option for a Slurpee at all hours, day or night? http://www.wantchinatimes.com
3. More owner-occupied condo's Sure, the Rochester rental market is healthy right now as evidenced by very low vacancy rates in our best neighborhoods. Even being a city where young people come to school and then venture away in order to find suitable job opportunities has typically made Rochester a renter's playground. But the fact is, we need more homeowners to fill up the tax rolls for a city that lost much of them, and the tax base, decades ago. With the aging stock of city housing in and surrounding the city, it'd be nice to see more brand new condo units (i.e., refurbished warehouses, empty office buildings, former city structures) occupied by owners, therefore creating a densely populated city like that of New York, Boston (above), and Chicago.
It's no surprise that owners tend to get more involved in their neighborhood associations, take notice of who is running for local political office, and even have a desire to come up with long-term plans and solutions for issues in their community. Is Rochester ready for this? Is the demand here? We certainly think so.
4. Urban workout stations Muddy Plimsolls
Ok, here's a fun one. Have you ever been to a park where there was a running trail marked with exercise stations every so often along the way? This could be the next idea for the Genesee Riverway Trail. There are loads of people that get out and walk, run, bike the Riverway Trail everyday and there should be exercise stations to encourage a healthy lifestyle. We all know that the weather is good only up until a certain point, so getting out in the fresh air is extremely important while we have it. We, as a community, should make it as easy as possible to educate our families on taking care of themselves with daily exercise - all without the individual monthly fees of an expensive gym membership.
5. Dog Parks HGTV Urban Oasis 2011
We all know that dogs are a man's best friend. So why would we neglect them out of the equation when rebuilding our city? Whether or not you're a fan of the furry ones, it's certainly hard to argue with the fact that dog parks add that touch of "there are actually people that live here and they think about things other than themselves". It also doesn't hurt that your cute, cuddly friend can be a conversation starter to your neighbor that shares the same urban space as you.
6. Underground city network Tenjin Underground City, Japan; Wikipedia
How do you combat the fact that your city is located in an extreme weather center part of the country? Well, why not build below the ground and get residents out of the elements. Many cities - both domestic and international - from Cleveland, Seattle, Tokyo, and Toronto - all have major underground facilities and passageways that make up their subterranean complexes. In fact, our close-Canadian cousin city, Toronto, has the largest underground shopping network in the world called the PATH. And this idea is not just for snow-bearing cities - Houston and Atlanta keep millions of people out of the suffocating heat of the summer with their own set of tunnels, restaurants, and shopping centers that serve as major attractions for residents and tourists alike.
Most of us know about the old subway tunnel system running below downtown Rochester, so why can't we develop a city-within-a-city complex that would tie together our history, our unique assets, all the while rendering the phrase "it's too cold outside" completely baseless? There are many thoughts, ideas, and even plans floating out there to make this happen…we just need to match up the plans and ideas people with the money people who can fund something like this. Simple, right?!
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7. Floating pool on the Genesee River AP, New York Post 4/23/14
And speaking of floating plans, this last idea is dreaming crazy. You may have heard of the work currently underway in New York City to bring the "+ Pool", a floating pool idea, to the East River by mid-year 2016. Crazy as it sounds, its Kickstarter program raised over a quarter-million dollars from over 3,100 backers! These are some serious people who want to end the "nastiness" of the East River and make it usable (READ - swimmable) in the near future.
We can't help but think about an article that was written in RochesterSubway.com a little over a year ago about the "Growing River of Trash" in our own Genesee River, right in our own downtown area. Recreational public use aside, one of the main draws of the "+ Pool" idea is that its filtration system would help clean out an estimated half-million gallons of river water every-day. That water is then cycled back into the river, ultimately providing a cleaner, healthier environment for the city. Take the funding out of the equation, how can this not be a good idea? A chance for the public to use a brand-new outdoor swimming facility, with sweeping downtown-skyline views, all the while cleaning one of our most precious resources that we were once founded upon and that has served this city for nearly 200 years.
Related Post 'Floating Pool' - New York Post
If you have additional ideas for our city, we'd love to hear what they are. Please leave us feedback on these 7 (not-so-new) ideas above, or send us your own.
We'll end here with a quote from one of our most favorite actors, and an ending tribute - "No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world." - Robin Williams