URBAN PERSPECTIVE ||
With the announcement by the D&C a week-and-a-half ago that the Bausch & Lomb building in downtown would be sold to three local developers for $15mil urges some questions for many of us as to what is exactly happening in the city. Can there really be change taking place in the city? Is it safe to go downtown? Should I patronize the city and its businesses, institutions, and events, and better yet, should I move to the city to rent, buy, or invest there?
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Most of our readers know that we're not here to debate the current status of the political or economic landscape of the city of Rochester, nor are we going to say that the city is fully rehabilitated and you should drop everything, right now, and move right in the heart of it all. We can only hope some of you take the bait.
What we will say is that change, both big and small, is happening all around us as we speak. And for the most part, it's usually the much smaller, almost unnoticeable projects that are taking place right under our noses that produce real results we can live with. Rarely do these projects make the BIG headlines, and it's only years later do we think to ourselves, "…if only I had invested (moved/purchased/volunteered/got involved) when the city was just beginning to change!".
Well, that time is now! Take the neighborhood that the Bausch & Lomb building is in for example - the Washington Square Park Neighborhood. We can speak of this firsthand because it's in Center City and most people can place it on the map if you say Dinosaur BBQ. There are thousands of people each day that work in and around the area, and - because we live here - we see the changes happening on a daily basis. If you don't believe that change is happening in and around our downtown area, we invite you to take a quick look at these photos that show signs of life emerging in just one section of our downtown that you might not otherwise hear about in the big news feeds.
Have you been in or around the Washington Square Park lately? Take a look at what some local artists have done to spruce up even the most mundane of permanent structures. The neighborhood association, The Washington Square Park Neighborhood Association, has commissioned several talented artists to make the traffic boxes more eye-catching. This was all made possible by a generous NeighborGood grant from the Rochester Area Community Foundation. The most recent painting across from Geva Theatre (seen above) was done by Wall\Therapy artist Thievin' Stephen. Other artists include local talents Rachel Dow, Mona Oates, as well as several students from the nearby School of the Arts.
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Some of you know of the 1 Capron building. Others, even those quite familiar with downtown, still have no idea that this building is full of condo home-owners and renters that enjoy city life. The building has been fully-occupied since early 2012, and the sales track-record of the the building's units have proven that condos in the city don't stay on the market for long.
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Across the street from the Capron Lofts is the old V.H. Lang Trophies building. The trophy shop closed its doors last month (May) as the owners sought retirement, and it has been rumored that the building was recently sold to an unknown investor. Can you imagine lofts or retail space in this tired-looking historic structure? Will you be the change maker in this city to make that happen?
Have you ever seen the old Wahl's building on that same block that sits across from Geva Theatre's western side? One of the last free-standing homes in the neighborhood built during the Great Depression, this building has also been rumored to have been sold to an unknown investor. Is it the same investor and, if so, is there plans for the entire block?
Do you know of the Merkel Donohue building in the neighborhood? Named from the high-end office furniture retailer that occupied the space up until the end of 2013, the building now sits empty of the corner of South Avenue and Woodbury. Built in the late 1880's, this building is part of the complex of connected structures that run from Woodbury to Capron Street and is a testament to the historical, manufacturing fabric of the area. As you move around the building to the Woodbury side where the on-ramp of the inner-loop, 490E, and South Ave is located, you might get a glimpse of the small banner hanging inconspicuously near the corner of the building:
Upon closer inspection:
The sign reads, "Dutton & Company Real Estate Services, Available Office/Restaurant/Lofts Coming in 2015!". With very little information out there to explore - no website, no Facebook - we wish we had more information to share on this development. You can bet we'll keep our eyes focused on this as progress emerges.
As you walk down the South Avenue Extension towards Capron Street, you may or may not notice this building, part of the Merkel Complex. While it doesn't look like anything but a decrepit, aged-structure now, plans have been in the works to bring a 2014 Fashion Week of Rochester runway show to the raw, urban space that this provides. There have been rumors of replacing the entire front facade with expansive, beautiful windows to make the space more inviting. Can you see your office, apartment, grocery store in here?
And lastly, while rumors and plans of change are interesting and allow us to dream, we'd be remiss if we didn't share what WAS actually taking place in the Merkel complex. While much of the complex is still untouched, there is one section that is currently being rehabbed as we speak. Brand new, large windows have recently replaced boarded-up walls and broken window panes. This building sits behind the former V.H. Lang shop across from the Capron Lofts. If there is any truth in change being made, this is the proof. Soon lights, furniture, neighbors and activity will inhabit a space that, for too long, has been dormant. Can you see yourself living or working in one of these industrial, loft-like structures?
In short, while many of us only realize change is taking place in our city when we hear of the major, large projects that make the headlines, we, here at the Rochesteriat, want you to take note of the smaller projects that are happening on a daily basis. We urge you to take notice of your surroundings the next time your out and about in the city. Look at the beautiful architecture, the history, the way it all fits together in our given landscape. Ask yourself, how can I make a positive difference in this community to help make this city great again? After all, if $15Mil can buy an entire skyscraper downtown, imagine just how far YOUR money, time, effort can go in our city when put to good use.