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April 20, 2011

University eyes mixed-use development near Eastman

The City of Rochester’s Cultural Center Commission has approved the sale of 1.5 acres of city-owned land downtown to the University for $640,000. The land, located at 420 E. Main St., is across from the Eastman School and is currently being used as a parking lot. The sale requires the approval of both Rochester City Council and the Monroe County

Ronald Paprocki, the University’s senior vice president for administration and finance, says the University’s intent is to develop the land in partnership with a private developer, similar to the planning now in the works for University property on Mt. Hope Avenue between Elmwood Avenue and Crittenden Boulevard. The timing of the East Main Street development will depend on the planning process undertaken by the University, including the Eastman School, as well as on market conditions.

The University is committed to working with the City of Rochester, the Cultural Center Commission, and the neighbors to enhance the area around the Eastman School, the Eastman Theatre, and many other Rochester cultural attractions,” says University President Joel Seligman. “Our goal is to make this property a catalyst for further development in a way that benefits the Eastman School of Music and the neighborhood.”

“This news is further evidence that downtown Rochester is on its way back,” says Mayor Thomas Richards. “I wish to thank the members of the Cultural Center Commission, the University of Rochester, and Monroe County for their patience and diligence in making this long-awaited deal a reality.”

Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks says, “This significant investment in the future of downtown Rochester stands as yet another example of the great things that happen when local leaders work together for the good of our community. I’d like to thank the City of Rochester, the University of Rochester, and the Cultural Center Commission for their dedication to this effort and strong belief in downtown’s continued revitalization—an endeavor that we can all be proud of.”

If the city and county legislative bodies approve the sale, the University would pay property taxes based on the assessed value of the parking lot, which would remain in operation for a limited time. The University will have five years in which to undertake the development project.

After a developer is chosen and plans are proposed, it’s expected that a Payment-In-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILOT) agreement would be negotiated with the city to insure that all or a portion of the project remains on the tax rolls.

The former Rascal Café site, known as Block F, is the last development property owned by the Cultural Center Commission, which was formed by the State of New York in 1979 and jointly funded by the Monroe County and the City of Rochester. The goal of the commission was to implement the Cultural District Plan and revitalize the area around the Eastman School and Grove Place Neighborhood. Projects completed under the plan included the Symphony Terrace, the Sagamore on East, the Metro YMCA, the East End Parking Garage, the Miller Center, the Eastman Living Center, and a number of Grove Place townhomes.

“After more than two decades of attempting to find the perfect development of this parcel, I believe we have the absolute best plan for the County of Monroe, the City of Rochester, the Grove Place Association, and the Eastman School of Music,” said Cultural Center Commission Chairman Jim Vazzana.

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