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Port development lacks middle class housing

Charlotte, N.Y. - Those opposed to a proposed high rise development project in Charlotte are striking back with a video campaign.  

"The towers are ugly and not reflective of the needs of residents," the video says to the beat of Beethoven's symphony number five.

The developer chosen by the City of Rochester Tuesday proposes a hotel of at least ten stories and housing units that will sell for up to $1.2 million dollars. 

 Also tucked into the proposal are low income housing units.

The construction site includes the former fast ferry terminal. 

Within two years of the terminal's construction, it was largely empty. In trying to be "all things to all people" except the middle class, critics fear this development project will end up the same way.

"The sad thing is it will destroy the port," said Lee Selover, who has lived in Charlotte all his life and owns Windjammer's restaurant.

There's no denying the star of Charlotte is the waterfront, particularly where Lake Ontario and the Genesee River merge. 

Developer Edgewood has designed high-end waterfront communities around the country and says in its proposal that Rochester's quaint riverside community can draw empty nesters and young professionals who will pay $200 thousand dollars for an 800 sq ft condo. 

Penthouse units will sell from $900 thousand to $1.2 million dollars.

"You see how much the condos are going to go for? Who's going to afford this?" said Selover.  

Those against the project are bolstering their case with an internet video which raises that question: "it's too large and there aren't enough people to fill it."

Spencer Ash of the City of Rochester says the decision is the result of more than 20 years of research into how to best develop the lakefront.  

"We know we have a wonderful natural resource that is under-utilized," Ash said. "We know there is a market for it and a demand out there."

Yet the same towers that will house the penthouse units will also contain subsidized housing for low income residents.  

"I think you have to have a mix but it has to be indistinguishable," says Councilman Dana Miller. "You shouldn't be able to look at this and say that's the low-income and this is the higher end."

A three bedroom apartment will cost $600-thousand dollars. Critics wonder where the options are for middle class residents.  

"We have been trying to build that up here in Charlotte," said Selover. 

Charlotte is also home to two stand-alone subsidized housing units.  

Some look at those developments and cannot buy into the vision that million dollar tenants would fit alongside.  

"It's ridiculous," said Selover. "Once they sit here for a while empty they're going to say let's turn it all into low income housing."

Mayor Lovely Warren's office says the proposal is simply a starting point. The final plan will be designed and approved only after input from community groups and residents- a process which will take eight months.

 
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