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Unread 02-14-2012, 02:08 PM
 
Location: The Internet
345 posts, read 403,076 times
Reputation: 395
Default Ideas on how to bring Rochester into the 21st Century

Before I begin let's just quickly analyze the failed Fast Ferry project of a couple years ago. Why did it fail? Price and scope. The common man was just not going to use the service as much as would have been required to maintain its operation. It was also a one way street, in that Rochesterians would have loved to travel to Toronto (if they could afford to and obtain the necessary travel docs). But what did Rochester have to offer Torontonians? Not very much, imo. It was doomed from the start, and thus $30 million spiraled down the drain.

So what needs to happen going forward?

All future projects must consider price (because this will dictate amount of usage, for crying out loud the Blue Cross is only half full for Amerks games and tickets are $12), usefulness to the community (again the fast ferry was a novelty not a necessity), and cost to taxpayers. Low risk, sound investments with high return in tax revenue, job creation, and in raising the prestige of the surrounding community.

The first priority should be to modernize downtown Rochester. When driving through, it just seems like a cold, dead, lifeless city. The 490 bridge was a great start, at least aesthetically speaking.

The best idea stemming from the Renaissance Square Project was Rochester's need for a bus terminal. This should be expanded to include the other forms of transit, rail and air. The current Amtrak station should be improved and expanded to include a bus terminal, and a light rail link to the airport should be set up as well. This will greatly improve the mass transit options of both the tourist and Rochester resident alike. Some operations, like the light rail, could be contracted out to independent companies through a competitive bidding process, thereby saving the city money from benefit obligations.

As for Charlotte and the largely unused Port of Rochester, it seems the city is already addressing the problem:

City of Rochester | Port of Rochester

Though the city plan is alright, even a little conservative and with good reason (think fast ferry), I feel it would have been a perfect opportunity to allow a Casino/hotel resort complex to be built by the lake. Instead the city is trying to spur new residential development and cater to the boat crowd.

I realize that with casinos comes problems such as crime and gambling addiction, but the tourist draw is something Rochester desperately needs, and casinos can do that plus create jobs and provide a steady source of tax revenue. Could a casino raise the prestige of the community? Yes, if done right. Any casino complex should offer additional forms of entertainment such as live shows and movies. This will help make it a destination for families and locals.

At the very least a mini-Wegmans, like the one mentioned here, should be built for the beach community to improve the quality of life by increasing its walkability.

Last edited by RottenChester; 02-14-2012 at 03:29 PM..
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Unread 02-14-2012, 02:26 PM
 
3,235 posts, read 4,527,672 times
Reputation: 2510
Quote:
Originally Posted by RottenChester View Post
Before I begin let's just quickly analyze the failed Fast Ferry project of a couple years ago. Why did it fail? Price and scope. The common man was just not going to use the service as much as would have been required to maintain its operation. It was also a one way street, in that Rochesterians would have loved to travel to Toronto (if they could afford to and obtain the necessary travel docs). But what did Rochester have to offer Torontonians? Not very much, imo. It was doomed from the start, and thus $30 million spiraled down the drain.

So what needs to happen going forward?

All future projects must consider price (because this will dictate amount of usage, for crying out loud the Blue Cross is only half full for Amerks games and tickets are $12), usefulness to the community (again the fast ferry was a novelty not a necessity), and cost to taxpayers. Low risk, sound investments with high return in tax revenue, job creation, and in raising the prestige of the surrounding community.

The first priority should be to modernize downtown Rochester. When driving through, it just seems like a cold, dead, lifeless city. The 490 bridge was a great start, at least aesthetically speaking.

The best idea stemming from the Renaissance Square Project was Rochester's need for a bus terminal. This should be expanded to include the other forms of transit, rail and air. The current Amtrak station should be improved and expanded to include a bus terminal, and a light rail link to the airport should be set up as well. This will greatly improve the mass transit options of both the tourist and Rochester resident alike. Some operations, like the light rail, could contracted out to independent companies through a competitive bidding process, thereby saving the city money from benefit obligations.

As for Charlotte and the largely unused Port of Rochester, it seems the city is already addressing the problem:

City of Rochester | Port of Rochester

Though the city plan is alright, even a little conservative and with good reason (think fast ferry), I feel it would have been a perfect opportunity to allow a Casino/hotel resort complex to be built by the lake. Instead the city is trying to spur new residential development and cater to the boat crowd.

I realize that with casinos comes problems such as crime and gambling addiction, but the tourist draw is something Rochester desperately needs, and casinos can do that plus create jobs and provide a steady source of tax revenue. Could a casino raise the prestige of the community? Yes, if done right. Any casino complex should offer additional forms of entertainment such as live shows and movies. This will help make it a destination for families and locals.

At the very least a mini-Wegmans, like the one mentioned here, should be built for the beach community to improve the quality of life by increasing its walkability.
A more realistic ferry would work. A luxury ferry was not needed and was too expensive. If you looked at the stats, there were a good amount of Canadians that came over from the ferry for things such as shopping(cheaper), festivals and wineries. Make the ferry smaller and less expensive. It looks like there is already a plan to do so.
Not sure if we need to "modernize" downtown or fix up some older buildings. When I go to newer cities filled with newer architecture such as Charlotte, I find them to be completely boring, bland and unmemorable. Cities like Boston, NYC and SF keep older buildings in tact, adding to the atmosphere of the cities. There are a handful of instances where modern architecture can stand out, but overall I find it to be boring and cheap.
Downtown has been doing a good job of adding residential units over the past few years with more and more condos being put in. More retail is needed as more people move downtown. A nice grocery store should be put in, such as the mini wegmans idea. Something like an urban outfitters would do nice too.
There should also be more infill. Far too many parking lots downtown, namely the west side. They have been doing some good things such as building townhouses in empty lots on the west side of DT, but more should be done. Even with lots filled with buildings, you should still be able to find parking for destinations, assuming you have an IQ over 10.
I do not agree with a casino idea. We already have casinos in Niagara falls, Buffalo and just outside of Syracuse. Casinos do nothing to fix cities. They are designed keep people inside, eating at the casino restaurants, spending money at only the casino. Places like Niagara Falls and Atlantic city are largely run down. The problem with a casino is that I haven't seen it done right with the exception of Vegas.
They should do something to make High Falls family friendly. More family oriented restaurants and activities. A bar/club district did not work since we already had 2-3 bar areas within walking distance to thousands of residents.
A new transit station is a great idea, combining bus and rail. The location they have picked out is horrible and has the potential to ruin the St Paul quarter which has added many lofts and condos over the years. While we are on the topic of transit, do not allow city school children downtown for transfers. They are a disturbance at times and do not contribute anything to the well being of a downtown.
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Unread 02-14-2012, 04:54 PM
 
Location: Rochester
586 posts, read 679,785 times
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I agree with almost all of what is stated above and would love to see some of the these ideas implemented to benefit our urban center.

I'm not sure what we could really do to modernize downtown Rochester other than to renovate and preserve what is already there. I suggest they continue to push for residential units, but also try to attract retail now that we have reached about 5,000 residents downtown. Take a look at downtown Buffalo. On their Main Street "urban mall" they have businesses that will attract people such as Subway, Tim Hortons, CVS, TGI Friday's and other small businesses. We need to follow their example on our Main Street. I also propose a pedestrian district, similar to Buffalo's "urban mall," Charlottesville's "downtown mall," and Baltimore's Inner Harbor in the Midtown block. With smart, 21st century urban planning, an area like this could end up being the most vibrant section of the entire city. I could see it lined with unique shops (like those on Monroe Ave) and restaurants to attract crowds of all ages. Ultimately downtown is going to need a grocery store though, and Wegmans will suffice. Unfortunately we have yet to see the urban model from Wegmans (and since Newton is a suburb the size of Irondequoit, its model there doesn't give me much hope) that we need downtown. Wegmans should take a look at the Whole Foods in downtown Baltimore and see how successful it is there, and how much opportunity there is.

As for Charlotte, I like the city's current models and would agree that if Rochester NEEDS a casino THAT badly, the lake is the proper place for it especially now that a ferry will be returning. In the future they could even take it a step further and turn Charlotte into something similar to Niagara Falls, Ontario. THAT would attract Canadians, not a department store in Victor like we seem to be satisfied with.

To our misfortune, Rochester's city leaders have been incompetent for far too long. In saying that, projects like Inner Loop East really do give me hope for this city. Perhaps a light rail model could be installed along the center of the new boulevard expected to replace the Inner loop. I don't think there is enough space on Main Street. Although it is unpopular to say, the city really needs to compete with the suburbs by attracting more people to center city. By installing a light rail system, a pedestrian district and smart urban planning downtown, I truly believe we can bring vibrancy back to Rochester. Use of the automobile needs to be DIScouraged in the city and we need to bring urbanity back.
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Unread 02-14-2012, 06:50 PM
 
Location: Rochester NY (western NY)
584 posts, read 631,897 times
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Model Rochester after both Boston (traditional and elegant old school architecture, I really liked the Back Bay/Quincy Market area) and Denver's 16th St Mall area (modern and upscale contemporary vibe), obviously on a smaller scale, and I think you have brought Rochester to a place where it'd be hard to slip back forward. I know I've said this all numerous times before and it's probably getting old, but I really feel that this would be a recipe for success.

And as far as the marina project, it's flat out 100% STUPID and will ruin Charlotte Beach, period. There is already extremely limited parking down there during the busier days, and just about no parking during the BBQ festival and Wegmans music nights. So instead of fixing the parking problem, the city wants to make it even worse. Yeah, brilliant.

Anyways, back to the topic of 16 St.....

I mean c'mon, how does this NOT look like something you'd want to visit every night of the summer?!



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Unread 02-14-2012, 07:24 PM
 
5,265 posts, read 9,412,641 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RottenChester View Post
Before I begin let's just quickly analyze the failed Fast Ferry project of a couple years ago. Why did it fail? Price and scope. The common man was just not going to use the service as much as would have been required to maintain its operation. It was also a one way street, in that Rochesterians would have loved to travel to Toronto (if they could afford to and obtain the necessary travel docs). But what did Rochester have to offer Torontonians? Not very much, imo. It was doomed from the start, and thus $30 million spiraled down the drain.

So what needs to happen going forward?

All future projects must consider price (because this will dictate amount of usage, for crying out loud the Blue Cross is only half full for Amerks games and tickets are $12), usefulness to the community (again the fast ferry was a novelty not a necessity), and cost to taxpayers. Low risk, sound investments with high return in tax revenue, job creation, and in raising the prestige of the surrounding community.

The first priority should be to modernize downtown Rochester. When driving through, it just seems like a cold, dead, lifeless city. The 490 bridge was a great start, at least aesthetically speaking.

The best idea stemming from the Renaissance Square Project was Rochester's need for a bus terminal. This should be expanded to include the other forms of transit, rail and air. The current Amtrak station should be improved and expanded to include a bus terminal, and a light rail link to the airport should be set up as well. This will greatly improve the mass transit options of both the tourist and Rochester resident alike. Some operations, like the light rail, could be contracted out to independent companies through a competitive bidding process, thereby saving the city money from benefit obligations.

As for Charlotte and the largely unused Port of Rochester, it seems the city is already addressing the problem:

City of Rochester | Port of Rochester

Though the city plan is alright, even a little conservative and with good reason (think fast ferry), I feel it would have been a perfect opportunity to allow a Casino/hotel resort complex to be built by the lake. Instead the city is trying to spur new residential development and cater to the boat crowd.

I realize that with casinos comes problems such as crime and gambling addiction, but the tourist draw is something Rochester desperately needs, and casinos can do that plus create jobs and provide a steady source of tax revenue. Could a casino raise the prestige of the community? Yes, if done right. Any casino complex should offer additional forms of entertainment such as live shows and movies. This will help make it a destination for families and locals.

At the very least a mini-Wegmans, like the one mentioned here, should be built for the beach community to improve the quality of life by increasing its walkability.
I think you pretty much hit on all of the key points I would bring up as well. The biggest of which would be downtown. The key for any city to have a full-on revival is to start in the middle...downtown needs to be seen as an attraction for people to go to during all times of the day and on weekends...not just 9-5 on the weekdays for work. Make downtown a place people want to be at night instead of a place people want to avoid at night and the city's neighborhoods will revive themselves. Right now, having a home that is close to Rochester's downtown is, with the exception of a few nice revived streets and new condo developments.....considered a liability instead of an asset. Turn that around, and the rest will fall into place at a rate that would surprise you. You could see PLEX and The Crescent go the way of Southwedge in a matter of a decade or so if you could make living close to downtown a point of pride and something that increases property values.
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Unread 02-15-2012, 08:17 AM
Status: "It's a setup" (set 7 days ago)
 
26,757 posts, read 30,101,910 times
Reputation: 5346
Quote:
Originally Posted by OverTaxedInNY View Post
Model Rochester after both Boston (traditional and elegant old school architecture, I really liked the Back Bay/Quincy Market area) and Denver's 16th St Mall area (modern and upscale contemporary vibe), obviously on a smaller scale, and I think you have brought Rochester to a place where it'd be hard to slip back forward. I know I've said this all numerous times before and it's probably getting old, but I really feel that this would be a recipe for success.

And as far as the marina project, it's flat out 100% STUPID and will ruin Charlotte Beach, period. There is already extremely limited parking down there during the busier days, and just about no parking during the BBQ festival and Wegmans music nights. So instead of fixing the parking problem, the city wants to make it even worse. Yeah, brilliant.

Anyways, back to the topic of 16 St.....

I mean c'mon, how does this NOT look like something you'd want to visit every night of the summer?!


It kind of reminds me of a big city version of the Commons in Ithaca.
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Unread 02-21-2012, 12:03 PM
 
3,041 posts, read 2,969,324 times
Reputation: 2130
There are alot of negative "perceptions" of Rochester out there, some justified and some not. But, as they say, perception becomes reality, and that's why it is not an attractive place to move to and why young people move away. Gee, just arriving at the airport is quite a shock for lack of people.

I agree that Roch is more of a midwest type city than east coast or mid-atlantic. But there are quite a few cities that thrive in the mid west that could be models to use for success in Rochester. I mean, Minneapolis/St. Paul is always touted at a great place to live and they have pretty high taxes, Denver, Madison WI, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis is up and coming. Columbus, Ann Arbor. All very cold weather places...so it isn't really the weather that keeps people away. Course some are larger metro areas but they can be used as role models. To me, it's a lack of attitude about wanting the things that make cities great...the whole world goes to Starbucks but not most Rochester people, better dept stores don't go into Eastview because surveys told them that people in Rochester wouldn't spend that kind of money on clothes/fashion (and they are right). People in Roch don't go out to eat often enough to support great restaurants. Rochester people, for the most part, didn't adapt to the social changes of the past 30 years. Most cities that change begin with retail. Cities have to keep their young people there to support this kind of retail/entertainment. Building beautiful condos on those Finger Lakes where wealthy people can have second homes. Wealth attracts wealth. Rocheser could have become a great high tech center with its educated population but people want to live someone where there is a vital city nearby with 21st Century ammenities. Get with the program, people!!! Or else be content to be what you are, a mid-sized midwest type, family oriented city...nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, change comes whether you want it to or not, either moving forward or falling behind.

Last edited by loveautumn; 02-21-2012 at 12:20 PM..
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Unread 02-21-2012, 03:12 PM
 
3,235 posts, read 4,527,672 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loveautumn View Post
There are alot of negative "perceptions" of Rochester out there, some justified and some not. But, as they say, perception becomes reality, and that's why it is not an attractive place to move to and why young people move away. Gee, just arriving at the airport is quite a shock for lack of people.

I agree that Roch is more of a midwest type city than east coast or mid-atlantic. But there are quite a few cities that thrive in the mid west that could be models to use for success in Rochester. I mean, Minneapolis/St. Paul is always touted at a great place to live and they have pretty high taxes, Denver, Madison WI, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis is up and coming. Columbus, Ann Arbor. All very cold weather places...so it isn't really the weather that keeps people away. Course some are larger metro areas but they can be used as role models. To me, it's a lack of attitude about wanting the things that make cities great...the whole world goes to Starbucks but not most Rochester people, better dept stores don't go into Eastview because surveys told them that people in Rochester wouldn't spend that kind of money on clothes/fashion (and they are right). People in Roch don't go out to eat often enough to support great restaurants. Rochester people, for the most part, didn't adapt to the social changes of the past 30 years. Most cities that change begin with retail. Cities have to keep their young people there to support this kind of retail/entertainment. Building beautiful condos on those Finger Lakes where wealthy people can have second homes. Wealth attracts wealth. Rocheser could have become a great high tech center with its educated population but people want to live someone where there is a vital city nearby with 21st Century ammenities. Get with the program, people!!! Or else be content to be what you are, a mid-sized midwest type, family oriented city...nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, change comes whether you want it to or not, either moving forward or falling behind.
The problem with your post is that in no way shape or form is Rochester midwestern. Having spent a great deal in the midwest and being constantly reminded how different I am and how "I do things back east" made me see this. Demographics, pace of life and culture make it more in line with the northeast. We have more in common with people in Providence, Long Island, Springfield or Scranton than we do with people in Akron, Toledo or Detroit.
Your comment about fashion is way off base. People would support more high end department stores. There are a number of high end boutiques spread across the city and suburbs that do well. What people can't find in these boutiques they order online. There is no shortage of people wanting higher end fashions. One complaint I hear from people is that there isn't enough selection on the higher end clothing they want. The area would not be able to support multiple higher end stores like bigger metros, but something smaller would work.
The assertion about people not wanting to go out to eat is far off base. I have struggled to get tables at higher end restaurants on dates because I waited too long to get reservations.
Having traveled all over, people here have adapted to social changes better than most areas I've seen. Compared to bigger places like NYC or San Francisco? Of course not. But compared to other metros of it's size, yes.
I think a big problem with people from the outside looking in(locals who have moved away), is that they compare the area to what their small group of friends and family were like, and base the entire area off of those interactions. Living in the area is a different story. I come across all sorts of beliefs and attitudes. To make a blanket statement on an entire area such as "people in Rochester like/don't like to ________" is not accurate as the People of Rochester have different opinions and attitudes.

A big factor in the negative perception are locals who moved away that like to make statements based on limited interactions of their home area. They may have hung around a crowd since high school that was close minded and only liked to go to bars on weekends. The person gets sick of this and rather branch out to other groups of friends, they move. Then then whine about the city they came from not being open minded, when in reality what the wished for was right in front of them if they made some changes. I have seen this on several occasions.

The big problem is that some people want Rochester to be like a NYC or Boston when it can't be. We don't have nearly the population to have the amenities or lifestyles of much larger cities. Sure we can have those things on a smaller scale though. We are a smaller city that needs to make small improvements to work our way up. Putting all of our eggs in one basket has proven to be disasterous.
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Unread 02-21-2012, 03:42 PM
 
130 posts, read 105,380 times
Reputation: 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by loveautumn View Post
There are alot of negative "perceptions" of Rochester out there, some justified and some not. But, as they say, perception becomes reality, and that's why it is not an attractive place to move to and why young people move away. Gee, just arriving at the airport is quite a shock for lack of people.

I agree that Roch is more of a midwest type city than east coast or mid-atlantic. But there are quite a few cities that thrive in the mid west that could be models to use for success in Rochester. I mean, Minneapolis/St. Paul is always touted at a great place to live and they have pretty high taxes, Denver, Madison WI, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis is up and coming. Columbus, Ann Arbor. All very cold weather places...so it isn't really the weather that keeps people away. Course some are larger metro areas but they can be used as role models. To me, it's a lack of attitude about wanting the things that make cities great...the whole world goes to Starbucks but not most Rochester people, better dept stores don't go into Eastview because surveys told them that people in Rochester wouldn't spend that kind of money on clothes/fashion (and they are right). People in Roch don't go out to eat often enough to support great restaurants. Rochester people, for the most part, didn't adapt to the social changes of the past 30 years. Most cities that change begin with retail. Cities have to keep their young people there to support this kind of retail/entertainment. Building beautiful condos on those Finger Lakes where wealthy people can have second homes. Wealth attracts wealth. Rocheser could have become a great high tech center with its educated population but people want to live someone where there is a vital city nearby with 21st Century ammenities. Get with the program, people!!! Or else be content to be what you are, a mid-sized midwest type, family oriented city...nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, change comes whether you want it to or not, either moving forward or falling behind.
You definitely hit the nail on all the issue with Rochester. I just gave you some reputation points for the insight information.
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Unread 02-21-2012, 04:39 PM
Status: "It's a setup" (set 7 days ago)
 
26,757 posts, read 30,101,910 times
Reputation: 5346
Quote:
Originally Posted by garmin239 View Post
The problem with your post is that in no way shape or form is Rochester midwestern. Having spent a great deal in the midwest and being constantly reminded how different I am and how "I do things back east" made me see this. Demographics, pace of life and culture make it more in line with the northeast. We have more in common with people in Providence, Long Island, Springfield or Scranton than we do with people in Akron, Toledo or Detroit.
Your comment about fashion is way off base. People would support more high end department stores. There are a number of high end boutiques spread across the city and suburbs that do well. What people can't find in these boutiques they order online. There is no shortage of people wanting higher end fashions. One complaint I hear from people is that there isn't enough selection on the higher end clothing they want. The area would not be able to support multiple higher end stores like bigger metros, but something smaller would work.
The assertion about people not wanting to go out to eat is far off base. I have struggled to get tables at higher end restaurants on dates because I waited too long to get reservations.
Having traveled all over, people here have adapted to social changes better than most areas I've seen. Compared to bigger places like NYC or San Francisco? Of course not. But compared to other metros of it's size, yes.
I think a big problem with people from the outside looking in(locals who have moved away), is that they compare the area to what their small group of friends and family were like, and base the entire area off of those interactions. Living in the area is a different story. I come across all sorts of beliefs and attitudes. To make a blanket statement on an entire area such as "people in Rochester like/don't like to ________" is not accurate as the People of Rochester have different opinions and attitudes.

A big factor in the negative perception are locals who moved away that like to make statements based on limited interactions of their home area. They may have hung around a crowd since high school that was close minded and only liked to go to bars on weekends. The person gets sick of this and rather branch out to other groups of friends, they move. Then then whine about the city they came from not being open minded, when in reality what the wished for was right in front of them if they made some changes. I have seen this on several occasions.

The big problem is that some people want Rochester to be like a NYC or Boston when it can't be. We don't have nearly the population to have the amenities or lifestyles of much larger cities. Sure we can have those things on a smaller scale though. We are a smaller city that needs to make small improvements to work our way up. Putting all of our eggs in

one basket has proven to be disasterous.
So true, especially about people basing an area off of their circle of friends or the part of town they grew up in. If they actually go to other parts of town, they may find something that they are looking for. Metros up here aren't everything comes to you areas, but you may have to look around for things. Basically, get outside of your comfort zone a little bit.
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