The University of Rochester has selected Fairmount Properties of Cleveland as a development partner to move forward on the next phase of planning its College Town project along Mt. Hope Avenue, Ronald Paprocki, senior vice president for administration and finance, announced today.
The project area is the 16 acres on the west side of Mt. Hope between Elmwood Avenue and Crittenden Boulevard.
"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.
"Over the coming months, the University and Fairmount will assess in more detail the feasibility of the project. 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 said.
Paprocki explained that "We selected Fairmount, in part, because of its experience with complex projects and its deep commitment to work with both the University and with the surrounding neighborhoods to develop a project that we can all be proud of."
Paprocki emphasized that the University considers the Southwest Rochester neighborhoods, including the 19th Ward, PLEX, and others, and the neighborhoods along the Mt. Hope corridor to be integral parts of its efforts to partner in enhancing the surrounding area, and that the University continues to work with Ron Christensen, the developer of Brooks Landing, on another project.
University 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. 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, explained that the vision developed to date features a number of multi-story buildings, all with street-level retail stores, restaurants, and boutiques, with new Class A office space and residences in the floors above. The new district also may include a hotel and conference center.
He said that the YMCA has expressed interest and has, in turn, been exploring with the University of Rochester Medical Center the possibility of creating joint health and wellness programs in a new "Y" to include fitness facilities and childcare programs. These 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 said.