University of Rochester

University of Rochester Bid for East Main Street Block Eyes Future Potential for Mixed-Use Development

April 11, 2011

The City of Rochester's Cultural Center Commission has approved the sale of 1.5 acres of city-owned land on East Main Street downtown to the University of Rochester for $640,000. The land, located at 420 E. Main St., is across the street from the Eastman School of Music and is currently being used as a parking lot. The sale of the land was approved on March 30 and requires the approval of both Rochester City Council and the Monroe County Legislature.

"This news is further evidence that downtown Rochester is on its way back," said Mayor-elect 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 remarked: "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."

"The University of Rochester is committed to working with the City of Rochester, the Cultural Center Commission, and the neighbors to enhance the area around our Eastman School of Music, the Eastman Theatre, and many other Rochester cultural attractions," said 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."

Ronald Paprocki, the University's senior vice president for administration and finance, said 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 of Music, as well as on market conditions.

If the sale is approved by the city and county legislative bodies, 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 for office, retail, and other uses are proposed, it is 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 County of Monroe 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 of Music 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.