Here's a FUN exercise we like to do quite often: City DREAMING.
When all this snow melts, and it IS currently melting away, we have dreams of uncovering a brand new Rochester - a city that is lively, bright, and bursting with energy. And while the warmer weather will certainly bring a more energized feel to all of us, without question, here we are talking about uncovering changes in the physical landscape of the city.
Here are 6 ideas that we're dreaming about for our city, areas that could use a little TLC and creative expression. And keep in mind that while we liken them to other areas in our country that are similar, we know that our city - the good 'ol people of Rochester - has the talent, ability, and creativity to do our own special thing with them. Projects and ideas that are unique and different - not just copycat renditions of the projects that have already been done. So take these "dreams" with a grain of salt, and let us know what you think.
1. Roundabout near MLK Jr. Park
Have you driven around the new roundabout near the MLK Jr. Memorial Park lately? It's seems a little bit unfinished and we're hoping that the city has more plans for it. Seating, trees, shrubbery - that's what we'd like to see with this space. Make it a sort of small public park. Could it be possible to add fountains that blast shots of water around the outer ring?
What about this?...
…this is part of the Dutch Kills Green park in Queens Plaza, New York City. With its mixture of foliage and shards of concrete, this former parking lot space that you've seen in Mafia movies portraying the 70's and 80's is now an inviting urban oasis drowning out all the noise of the traffic in the city. And we can bet that no crazy driver will be taking a short cut anytime soon or doing a "lawn job".
2. Gibbs Street near Java's
What if, during the long summer days, on-street parking was actually closed off on Gibbs Street from East Ave to Main Steet? When most of us want to sit outside and enjoy the beautiful weather while it's here, at peak times, the amount of Java's outdoor seating fails us. To have an entire section of outdoor seating in the middle of road would provide a spacious getaway, even a place where artists both fine art and musicians alike, could come and intermingle with the general public.
Could Gibbs Street become something that looks like this during the summer?...
Minus the glitz and glamour of the Times Square billboards and millions of people, we think Gibbs Street would be a hub of creativity and cultural activity during the beautiful summer months. And the traffic or parking? New York City has proven that the automobile traffic will simply find another way.
We don't even have to think too far outside the box for this one, since the annual Jazz Fest closes off this section in June and we get to preview what this would look like.
3. Xerox Tower's In-Ground Space
For decades, the in-ground space at the Xerox Tower in downtown has been under private authority. Used by Xerox employees as a lunch area during beautiful weather, this space has so much more potential, and we're sure it was meant for more when the company originally built it for their headquarters in the late 60's. Now that Buckingham Properties has purchased the building in conjunction with neighboring assets (Bausch & Lomb Building, The Tower at Midtown), would it be feasible to open the area up to the public?
Could the space look something like this?...
Ok, it may not be as popular as Rockefeller Center's ice skating rink, but every time I walk by this area I can't help but think how amazing it could be. And why would we need it as another ice skating rink? We already have the MLK Jr. Memorial Ice Skating Rink a block away. But what it could be is an area of indoor/outdoor restaurants, entertainment space, outdoor movie space, or even just a cool urban park/greenspace with the largest skyscrapers hanging overhead.
4. The Genesee River between the Court Street Bridge and Broad Street Aqueduct
Those of us who have spent anytime at all in this city know that our River is one asset that is sorely underutilized. Is it a part of our daily experience here? At this point, I doubt it. Is there something that can be done with the Genesee within Center City?
Could it possibly be an attraction like this?...
This is Providence, Rhode Island's answer to invigorating the experience between their city, residents, and visitors alike. "WaterFire Providence® is an independent, non-profit arts organization whose mission is to inspire Providence and its visitors by revitalizing the urban experience, fostering community engagement and creatively transforming the city by presenting WaterFire for all to enjoy."
5. High Falls Park
And speaking of the Genesee, are there any other opportunities to develop this Riverfront to its fullest here in Rochester? Of course there are, and one is in the High Falls neighborhood. With the backdrop of not only the beautiful city skyline but also a gorgeous 96-foot tall waterfall, we're thinking that the area of land at the base of the falls...
...could look something like this...
…of course that would mean convincing RG&E to give up control of their land at the base of the Falls. We did say we're dreaming, right? But hold on, GardenAerial may be on the right track with its 3 Phase Project that will transform the High Falls area into a word-class retreat of urban trailways, parks, and even public access to the river. Kudos to the Greentopia Crew - if you like this idea, find out more about them and their visions for our city next week during the Greentopia Film Fest.
6. The Broad Street Aqueduct
Ahhhhhh…one of our personal favorites here at the Rochesteriat. Some of us have been lucky enough to tour this popular space given at open public tours in the fall during River Romance Weekend. Others, have simply taken tours without any permission at all and you can even take a virtual tour of the site, compliments of Google Maps. Either way, this former engineering marvel once carried the Erie Canal over the Genesee River, and more recently until 1956 served as a small portion of Rochester's Subway.
Does it have the potential to look like this?...
This is a part of Montreal's Underground City, with its interconnected tunnels above and below ground of shops, walkways, offices, banks, transit stations, and much more. Toronto has an amazing underground urban network as well with its PATH, and it makes sense - these northern cities keep activity going year-round by sheltering the public from the harsh elements.
While this idea has been kicked around for many years here in Rochester, currently there is another group called the Broad Street Underground that has revived talks of doing something, anything, with the Aqueduct space. The RBJ recently ran an article on the progress of BSU, and if you're interested in lending some expertise to the team, write in to us, we'd be happy to guide you to the proper BSU contacts.
Jason is co-Founder and Editor of the Rochesteriat. All of these areas represent an opportunity to make our city better here in Rochester. Get involved and help us! Check out more @JaySchwingle or Facebook.