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February 16, 2011

College Town project moves forward

men looking at artists' renderings
Fairmount Properties’ plans for the Mt. Hope Avenue College Town project were on display last month. The proposal includes retail stores, restaurants, boutiques, office space, and residences. The new district also may include a hotel and conference center

The University has selected Fairmount Properties of Cleveland as a development partner to move forward on the next phase of planning the College Town project along Mt. Hope Avenue.

“We hope to spark the development of a vibrant College Town neighborhood that will serve the University community, the neighborhood, the city, and the Greater Rochester region by providing enhanced amenities in an attractive setting that also will serve as a University gateway,” says Ronald Paprocki, senior vice president for administration and finance.

Over the coming months, the University and Fairmount will assess in more detail the feasibility of the project, Paprocki says. The developer and the University will work together with other potential partners in the project, including neighborhood groups and government agencies, to draft a more specific plan, develop a budget, and draft a development agreement.

“If those elements come together, we will continue to advance this initiative with Fairmount. We expect to have greater clarity on our direction by the spring,” he adds.

The project area is the 16 acres on the west side of Mt. Hope between Elmwood Avenue and Crittenden Boulevard. Paprocki says that the University considers both the 19th Ward and the Mt. Hope corridor to be integral parts of its efforts to partner in enhancing surrounding neighborhoods, and that the University continues to work with Ron Christensen, the developer of Brooks Landing, on another project.

President Joel Seligman hailed the progress to date.

“Our College Town project has tremendous potential, not only to enhance the quality of life for the University community, but also to serve as a catalyst for the continuing revitalization of the neighborhoods on both sides of the University,” he says. “I deeply appreciate the leadership that Ron has shown on this project, and I look forward to the completion of the feasibility study.”

Randy Ruttenberg, founding principal of Fairmount, says that the vision developed so far features a number of multistory buildings, all with street-level retail stores, restaurants, and boutiques, with new office space and residences in the floors above. The new district also may include a hotel and conference center.

He says the YMCA has expressed interest and has, in turn, been exploring with the Medical Center the possibility of creating joint health and wellness programs in a new “Y” to include fitness facilities and childcare programs. Discussions are still in the exploratory stages.

The University and Fairmount also are working closely with the Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority about creating a transit center and parking facility for the site. Public transportation is vitally important to many thousands of Medical Center employees, patients, and visitors, Paprocki says.

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