On Wednesday, leaders from three other cities toured Rochester’s downtown on Wednesday to help local officials figure out the best way to revamp Main Street, as well as how to tap into the potential offered by the Genesee River and the Brad Street aqueduct.
The team, which was selected for a fellowship this year organized by the Rose Center for Public Leadership, includes leaders from Birmingham, AL; Denver, CO; and Long Beach, CA.
Jess Zimbabwe, the director of the Rose Center, commented that “Sometimes, just that outsider’s perspective can help you give the thunk on the head that will help redirect a city’s approach to a land use challenge.”
Mayor Warren welcomed the team, saying, “I want to make Rochester a vibrant, world class destination. I want to bring in more jobs, more residential and mixed-use development, more exciting events, more entertainment, and more educational opportunities. To do this, we must start looking innovatively and strategically at our public places.”
Many development ideas focus on boosting downtown’s identity and increasing retail traffic, but leaders are also considering the use of green space.
Indeed, 77% of people view outdoor recreation as an important part of their lives, and many Rochesterians tend to leave the city limits to seek their fill of the great outdoors. With nearby Letchworth State Park and Stony Brook Park, as well as the Lake Ontario shoreline close by, there are many options for drivers. However, the Genesee River may also hold many possibilities for a chance for people to get a taste of nature without getting on the highway.
The study area Rose Center leaders looked at was approximately 112 acres and extended from the Main Street corridor between Plymouth and Chestnut, the Genesee River corridor, the Broad Street Aqueduct, and the former Rochester Subway Tunnel. These three areas are in the heart of Rochester, yet many feel that their lack of activity have negatively affected the city, and people’s perceptions of it.
The Rose Center has a reputation for helping cities reinvent themselves, says Urban Land Institute Global Chief Executive Officer Patrick L. Phillips. “We look forward to the recommendations from the Center’s fellows on how best to transform Rochester’s vision for it’s downtown into a strategy that provides long-lasting benefits to the entire community,” Phillips said.