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University of Rochester purchases College Town

The University of Rochester has purchased College Town, the mixed-use development in the Mt. Hope neighborhood. (University of Rochester photo / Sara Miller)

University leaders envision owning, managing, and marketing the mixed-use complex as a Rochester destination to shop, dine, stay, and live.

The University of Rochester has completed its purchase of College Town from CT Rochester, LLC, bringing the 312,000-square-foot, mixed-use complex under local ownership for the first time since its opening in 2014. Located in the Mt. Hope neighborhood, College Town serves as a gateway to the University’s River Campus and Medical Center Campus and is anchored by the University of Rochester Barnes & Noble Bookstore.

Meliora Development Company LLC, a newly formed affiliate of the University, now owns College Town and is responsible for managing the property and recruiting additional commercial tenants, while also supporting current business and residential tenants that call College Town home.

“With our purchase of College Town, we aim to build a greater sense of community and connectedness for students, employees, patients, visitors, and neighbors,” says University President Sarah Mangelsdorf. “The University’s new strategic plan and a planned update to the institutional campus master plan launching later this year will provide opportunities to reimagine how the development fits into University life.”

University leaders envision owning, managing, and marketing College Town in the spirit in which it was originally designed—as a Rochester destination to shop, dine, stay, and live. Today, College Town features restaurants, services, retail, and Class A office space, some of which is occupied by the University. It also includes the CVS Pharmacy; the 20,000-square-foot, two-level Barnes & Noble—which is both a community and University bookstore; a parking garage; and the Mt. Hope Lofts, which comprise 154 apartments, 10 of which are designated as affordable housing units.

“The success of College Town is important to the community, and local control will provide a stronger commitment to its vibrancy as well as a renewed energy to the neighborhood and businesses in the surrounding community,” says Dan Hurley, president of the Upper Mount Hope Neighborhood Association. “The Upper Mount Hope Neighborhood Association supports this acquisition and is excited to continue to be an integral partner, working in collaboration with the University and key stakeholders, to enhance the area.”

College Town is anchored by the University of Rochester Barnes & Noble Bookstore. (University of Rochester photo / Sara Miller)

CT Rochester LLC—a joint venture of Providence-based Gilbane Development Co. and Cleveland-based Fairmount Properties LLC—is the original developer of College Town, and has owned and managed the development and leased from the University of Rochester the 14 acres of land on which it sits. In the summer of 2022, CT Rochester expressed an intent to sell the development, and University officials began the purchase exploration process, including engaging with the City of Rochester, Monroe County, current tenants, as well as residents of the Mt. Hope community. The sale of College Town does not include the 136-room Hilton Garden Inn building on Elmwood Avenue, but the University will continue to own the land on which the hotel is located and ground lease this parcel to the hotel’s owner. The 10 affordable housing apartments in the complex will remain in place, and Meliora Development Company LLC will continue to make payments in lieu of taxes to Monroe County and the City of Rochester in the same amounts as were paid by CT Rochester.

College Town will be managed by Michael Zanghi, who has been named director of real estate operations and College Town. Zanghi previously worked in UR Medicine’s Real Estate Services office.

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