Performing arts center, mixed-use space to be built on Parcel 5

The Golisano Center for the Performing Arts and Tower will be built in the space on East Main Street and will feature housing, retail shops, restaurants and additional parking. (Photo: City of Rochester)

Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - A performing arts center and mixed-used development space will be built on a space of land deemed 'Parcel 5' at Midtown in downtown Rochester, Mayor Lovely Warren announced Friday.

The Golisano Center for the Performing Arts and Tower will be built in the space on East Main Street and will feature housing, retail shops, restaurants and additional parking. Parcel 5 is one of the Midtown development parcels created since the demolition of Midtown Plaza was completed in 2011.

The project is a co-venture between Morgan Communities and the Rochester Broadway Theatre League (RBTL).

“This project is going to happen," said RBTL chairman Arnie Rothschild. "This is a culmination of a lot of years of combinations and planning. This was the right moment, and so, it’s now a reality.”

It is estimated to cost $130 million. Last month, Paychex founder Tom Golisano pledged $25 million to the performing arts center in Rochester.

“A standalone arts center would not give us, we didn’t believe that financially that it would feasible," Mayor Lovely Warren said. "But with this particular project, with the housing and the retail, we believe that that is a better mix that will allow this project to go forward.”

The performing arts center will have approximately 3,000 seats. A residential tower is also being planned with 150 rental units, some of which will be affordable housing. The tower will also have retail shops and restaurants at street level.

“This much anticipated selection for Parcel 5 is a victory for our city in every way and I am grateful to Bob Morgan, RBTL and Tom Golisano for their investment in Rochester and its people,” said Mayor Warren. “Today we will begin a journey that will bring a combined 776 construction and permanent jobs to those who need them most, all while reinvigorating our city center with a hub of activity, entertainment, housing, commerce, shops and restaurants. This project will be an anchor for new development and represents continued progress for our city and, most importantly, its residents."

The CEO of Visit Rochester said a performing arts center will help draw tourists and generate revenue.

“The convention center turns down 20 to 30 meetings a year because we don't have the theater style." Don Jefferies said. "Think of shareholder meetings, national sales meetings, religious groups. This will be another something for us to sell to bring visitors to Rochester. "

Mayor Warren said 776 construction and permanent full-time jobs will be created as a result of the project. Of those, 610 jobs would be construction jobs; 166 permanent full-time jobs would be added for the PAC and tower.

A ‘Rochester First’ hiring policy is being pledged by the developers in this project as well. Morgan Communities and RBTL said it will work with the city, the NYS Department of Labor, MCC and SUNY REOC to give first preference for hiring to people living in the city of Rochester. Any prospective business owners based in Rochester looking to lease space in the tower would be given first preference also.

Both the city and RBTL are counting on the economic impact of a new theater to bring in the possibility of more shows and additional ticket sales from a larger theatre. They are estimating the venue would book a minimum of 180 “use nights” in a given year for an overall economic impact of $55.5 million. That figure is based on an estimated 360,000 people being brought downtown annually with a projected $18.5 million in ticket sales.

Rachel Barnhart and James Sheppard, both candidates in the Rochester mayoral race this fall praised the development in downtown Rochester, but criticized the manner in which they were put together.

Sheppard called the bidding process "scattershot and haphazard," and questioned what he called a lack of details in the project.

"What is the funding package?," Sheppard asked in a statement. "If in fact State funding will be necessary, have our leaders in State government been consulted - and has funding been committed? How about our local government partners on City Council?

Barnhart said Mayor Warren was not a leader with this project and had to rely on outside financiers to get it done.

"If she truly wants to get this project done, Lovely Warren can no longer sit back and let other people do the hard work," Barnhart said. "It’s extremely concerning the city’s press release didn’t detail funding sources for this $130 million project."

Mayor Warren noted that the Rose Fellowship, which visited Rochester last year, recommended more varied housing options downtown as being beneficial to Rochester.

RBTL said it would not require an operational subsidy to run the PAC at the site. And while, the theater portion of the development would not be a taxable property, the tower portion of the development would be.

Mayor Warren said the next step after funding has been finalized will be to sell Parcel 5 to Morgan Communities and RBTL.

The public green space between Parcel 5 and Elm Street will remain a green space. Morgan Communities will be working on a way to incorporate more green building design elements into the project.

“We do need the people back to downtown for shopping, restaurants [and] night life," said Rhonda Lynch, who works at Windstream. "It needs to pick up and come back to life again."

13WHAM News will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.

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