By Staff –
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren has announced the city has selected Morgan Communities and the Rochester Broadway Theater League (RBTL) to develop a 3000-seat Golisano Center for the Performing Arts, which will include a mix of retail and residential space in the Parcel 5 location at Midtown.
The $130 million project has a $25 million commitment from local businessman Tom Golisano, and is expected to bring 776 construction and permanent jobs to the area, the city said.
“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,” Mayor Warren stated. “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 city said the proposed project will include approximately 150 rental units, with some “affordable housing units” as part of the mix, with market rate units, in addition to retail shops and restaurants at street level.
The developers will also leave the green space currently located between Parcel 5 and Elm Street untouched, and actively seek to incorporate green building design elements into the project.
“RBTL has been working for 20 years to make today a reality, and we are grateful to Mayor Lovely Warren for her leadership, and to Tom Golisano for his philanthropy to finally make this possible,” Arnie Rothschild, RBTL CEO and board chairman, stated. “This project will put the arts front and center in our city, all while delivering enhanced economic impacts and jobs.”
According to Rothschild, the center would book a minimum of 180 “use nights” in a given year, and bring more than 360,000 people downtown annually, with a projected $18.5 million in ticket sales for an overall economic impact of $55.5 million.
The project developers have also agreed to adopt a “Rochester first” hiring policy for permanent jobs located at the facility, and the sale of Midtown plaza will be complete once funding for the development has been finalized, city officials said.
Midtown Plaza was demolished in 2011, and funding from New York State has been instrumental to the Midtown Rising project, most notably through a $55 million Empire State Development City by City grant in 2008, for demolition activities. The state has also provided numerous other grants related to the project for planning, engineering, environmental remediation, property acquisition and site development since 2007.
Prior to accepting the RBTL proposal, the city had been considering a proposal from developer Andrew Gallina for the Parcel 5 site; however, Gallina was reportedly unable to come up with the financing for the project.
Warren said the city is unaware of any funding gaps the project currently may face, and RBTL officials have said the group expects to raise additional funding for the project, as the organization continues to work out financing details.
In the meantime, Democratic Monroe County Legislator James Sheppard, and former WROC-TV news anchor Rachel Barnhart, the mayor’s opponents in the upcoming mayoral primary race, have released the following statements, regarding funding for the project:
“Since nobody has any real detail on this project, which came completely out of left field, I am left with questions,” Sheppard said. “Chief among them, what is the funding package? If in fact state funding will be necessary, have our leaders in state government been consulted – and has funding been committed? …With so many competing needs, it is critical that we all understand how these decisions are being made, and what the city’s priorities are.”
“It’s extremely concerning the city’s press release didn’t detail funding sources for this $130 million project,” Barnhart stated. “There’s also tremendous amount of due diligence to be performed. Support from the public, city council and other stakeholders must be obtained. That requires hard work – and leadership.”
According to the city, the work on the center could conceivably begin as soon as 2018, and developers could take up to 24 months to complete the project.