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Old August 4th, 2005, 08:33 PM   #1
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Rochester Development News

Let's bring up some development topics on the flower city...look in the D&C newspaper or online at many sources.

www.rochesterdowntown.com


How is the Renisiance Square going?


I expect Malo to help keep this thread updated with the likes of myself and perhaps JayBird.
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Old August 5th, 2005, 04:15 AM   #2
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ROCHESTER! w00t!
So much to talk about in the flour (flower) city, although the news lately has been depressing to say the least (Kodak layoffs have been something we get used to, and a Valeo plant closing really offset the creation of hundreds of new jobs by Cooper Vision, and Frito-Lay, recently). We really have seen a rebirth downtown as of late, and the housing in the city has been booming to say the least (as long as you are talking about the right areas.) Did i mention we may have an MLS category stadium very soon, all in all things are looking up.


Plenty to talk about, so whats up first?
Ren. Square
PAETEC Park
Downtown Loft/Apartment Living
New Indoor Waterpark (Possibly)
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Old August 5th, 2005, 04:21 AM   #3
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Well Paetec will be an awsome addition to the sports outtings in the city, I might check out a game when it opens.

As far as Development talk...Rochester is having a re-birth downtown? someone could please explain this...it would be great.

I really hope the loft and apartment infill will help the downtown area more, its gonna help the Buff.

I dunno who really reps the Roch besides Malo...so blangjr21...welcome. If you hear stuff keep us posted, and provide links where you can.
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Old August 5th, 2005, 04:23 AM   #4
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Start postin some pics and drawings. Buffcity had to kick some @ss to get the Rochester forumers goin here. Show us your development!!!!
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Old August 5th, 2005, 04:27 AM   #5
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steel, yer right, I wanna see what Rochester has on their plate, and unlike most times of making a point that is pointless...lol, this will help Rochester get some respect.

I think I must say honestly that Rochester and Buffalo are two peas in a pod...and this thread will do well with interest from Rochesterians, Buffalonians and New yorkers who just wanna know whats going on.

MCC Campus downtown? sounds interesting.

Malo, where are you?
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Old August 5th, 2005, 06:13 AM   #6
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RenSquare

Ren Square

The Ren Square project really is something that I wasn't too keen on at first, but now as it has gained some steam, you can't help but enjoy what it will do for an area of downtown Rochester that has surely seen better days.



That is what the square is supposed to look like, transforming empty buildings located on the corner of E. Main & N. Clinton

The structure will include three performing arts theatres, one large (2,500+) one medium (1,500+) and one traveling (500) seat venues. A Regional Transit Center, housing all incoming and outgoing busses in the Greater Rochester area, and the new MCC Damon Central City campus. The Damon Campus already exists in the Sibley building (located across from the liberty pole) but is in need of expansion as it only gets more students every year, and they are definitely due for an upgrade to the current facilities.

The project is already 50% funded at this point, and it looks as if the shovel will break into the ground by 2007 if all continues to go as planned.

Midtown Plaza
There is now a growing support to get rid of the Midtown Plaza "Mall" while keeping the Midtown tower, moving shopping into the Sibley Center, and to redevelope the current footprint of Midtown, into something much more feasible for a city of this size. Not much else has been proposed to this point, but there is definitely plans in the works.

PAETEC Park
My personal favorite, and possibly the most popular current project in the city, is PAETEC Park, the new 20,000 seat soccer stadium located close to the AAA Ballpark, Frontier Field. Construction is nearly complete on Phase I, and Phase II, and III will most likely continue through this summer, and will be complete by spring for the 2006 USL First Division season. With the highest attendence in the USL First Division since their inception Rochester was titled Soccertown USA as well as the best minor league sports town in the country in year 2005. We are very proud of this honor (although those in Buffalo will be quick to point out "minor" league (GO BILLS!))



Many more projects I didn't cover, but thats at least a start!
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Old August 5th, 2005, 02:59 PM   #7
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Paetec looks great, but the looks of Ren Square are a little troubling.

Downtown campus is a good idea, and if the bus terminal needs expansion I would say do so. all the performing arts centers seems a little excessive, maybe they could put a museum in there or something instead.

Anyone been to San Antonio TX? the Riverwalk? thats what Rochester shoud look at building.
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Old August 5th, 2005, 04:30 PM   #8
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ViaHealth skies clearing

System reports a better bottom line for 2004

Joy Davia
Staff writer

(August 5, 2005) — A fundraising project helped ViaHealth more than triple its bottom line in 2004, officials said.

ViaHealth, the health system that operates Rochester General Hospital, ended the year with a $21.5million surplus, up from $6.3 million in 2003. ViaHealth's foundation accounted for $9.7 million of that total. The foundation had launched a campaign that year to raise funds for the hospital's largest expansion project in almost two decades, officials said.

This is the second-straight year of positive financial results for the nonprofit health system, the region's fifth-largest employer with 5,263 full-time workers.

ViaHealth had suffered for years through multimillion-dollar losses. But the health system has since fixed its billing problems and downsized — including closing Genesee and Myers Community hospitals — and has made other moves to strengthen itself.

Rochester General, ViaHealth's core business, also boosted its bottom line by about 30 percent, recording surplus operational earnings of $11.3 million and a total surplus of $13million in 2004.

"It was a good year, but not a great year," said Richard Hogg, ViaHealth's chief financial officer.

The hospital benefited financially from more people getting certain services, he said. The number of people getting inpatient and ambulatory surgery, for example, was up 4 to 5 percent. He said growth areas included urology, general surgery and bariatrics, which is weight-loss surgery.

The hospital's 3 percent operational margin was about on par with the most recently reported performance of other area hospitals.

Strong Memorial, Highland and Park Ridge hospitals have had margins ranging from 2 percent to 4 percent.

Such margins are generally good for hospitals in New York, said Diane Ashley, executive vice president of Rochester Regional Healthcare Advocates, a hospital trade association.

About 53 percent of hospitals in the state failed to break even in 2003, which is the most recent data available through the Healthcare Association of New York State.

As a nonprofit, ViaHealth and its subsidiaries will use the extra money to upgrade equipment and reinvest in facilities. Rochester General, for example, is in the middle of an approximately $60 million project that includes a new parking garage and expansion of its emergency department.

The foundation has so far raised about $37 million toward a goal of $46 million for the project, said Diane Ewing, spokeswoman.

But not all of ViaHealth's subsidiaries had improved financial news in 2004.

Hill Haven nursing home and senior services lost $1.7 million, and Newark-Wayne Community hospital saw its net income dip to $160,420 in 2004, a drop of about 80 percent from the previous year.
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Old August 5th, 2005, 05:27 PM   #9
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Couple of things to reply to:

We don't have a bus terminal right now, all there is are a couple of small glass shelters with lots of busses crowding in front of midtown plaza, so theres definitely a need for the terminal, with ridership over 100,000 (RGRTA Statistics) each day.

The need for performing arts centers is there, a very high demand has been placed, because we just don't have a good performing arts center, the Auditorium theatre was just refurbished last year, but only seats around 250-300 and is far too small for the productions that Rochesterians want to see.

Also with three world class museums (RMSC, Strong Museum, Memorial Art Gallery) I'm not thinking that at this point we need another, and the architecture of the Ren Square may leave something to be desired, but hey its being designed by Moshe Safdie and Associates the same architects who brought you this:



I may not be supportive of the design, or the asthetics of the proposal, but i'm all for what is being included in the project.
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Old August 5th, 2005, 05:59 PM   #10
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I'm here, Buff City (sorry, you caught me napping...lol).

There are many, many things going on in Rochester right now. Many of them the fruits of the former Democratic Mayor.

If you go to this site, you can catch up on the latest project development on Paetec Park. This is going to be an awesome structure, and one of the few things that city council, nor the builders, cheaped out on. When you're on the site, you'll be able to click on a picture and it will blow it up to a much larger size, affording you a greater view. It's pretty cool, but has only been updated to June 21st of this year. Check it out: http://www.rhinossoccer.com/stadium/


Then you have this:

Medical Arts Building
277 Alexander Street

In 1929, the Noyes Mansion was torn down to make way for the exciting new Medical Arts Building. Constructed in popular art deco style, the building served as the center for doctors, dentists and other health care providers to more effectively and conveniently serve their patients.

Like the other well-known art deco buildings in Rochester—Times Square Building, Little Theater and the Reynolds Arcade—the Medical Arts building featured angular, geometric shapes, black decorative details and streamlined aerodynamic design principles that mimicked the modern industrial age. After more than seven decades, the ten-story, 71,000-square-foot building had lost its largely medical clientele and much of its art deco detail. Flower City Management purchased the building with the purpose of restoring it to it's former glory.

Today, the Medical Arts Building is being transformed into an exciting new urban destination with upscale retail, commercial and Manhattan-style garden apartments conveniently located near downtown, the East End entertainment district and Park Avenue. Plumbing, electrical, fire protection, security, communications and windows have all been upgraded. And the building features a state-of-the-art high-efficiency heating and air conditioning system.

With the vision of Flower City Management and the Billone Family, this landmark will once again become an important part of Rochester's future.

The Temple Building project:

Loft Apartments Penthouse Lofts Work / Live Lofts Commercial Space Contact Us
CEI / Ownership Building History Building Restoration Tenant Directory Map of Downtown



The Temple Building was designed by Gordon & Koelber along
with Carl R.Traver and built in 1925. Featuring pinnacles, pointed
arches and decorative tracery, it is the City of Rochester's only
example of a 20th Century Neo-Gothic skyscraper.
Located in the heart of Downtown Rochester, at the intersection
of Liberty Pole Way, East Avenue, East Main Street and Franklin
Street,The Temple Building stands right between the Saint Paul
Quarter and the East End.

Additional development at Corn Hill:


Corn Hill Landing is in Rochester's central business district and is close to shopping centers, cultural sites and public transportation routes. This highly anticipated $20 million project includes 127 apartments, 15,000 square feet of office space and 14,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

Corn Hill Landing signifies a major event and step foward in pushing public and private investment along the Genesee River in Rochester, NY. Rochester, the third largest city in New York State, is referred to as the "World's Image Center", which marks Rochester as the home of such technology giants as Eastman Kodak Company, Baush & Lomb and the Xerox Corporation.

Corn Hill Landing from drawing to completion had the individual in mind. Almost every luxury apartment is unique with stylistic features such as; ceramic tiles, fireplaces, French balconies, vaulted ceilings, skylights and more. Appliances, such as washer and dryer, and all kitchen equipment are included. Individual storage areas are available with covenience in mind.

All of these luxury apartments are complimented by professionally decorated interior corridors secured by the latest in technology. You can ride the elevator to the private parking garage which is further secured with an electronic system.

Individual heating and cooling systems are using today's most sophisticated engineering offering each resident of the Landing the highest of energy efficiency. Corn Hill Landing uses geothermal technology to assist the cooling of every apartment.

Imagine, company is coming and you need some wine; hop on the elevator and make a quick stop at the boutique. Or, better yet, just take your companions on a short walk to one of the feature restaurants and entertain there.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------




Somewhere in our "New World" we lost the flavor that makes the traditional European Communities so wonderful. Corn Hill Landing has been designed by some of the finest architects along with one of Western New York's most respected developers, Mark IV Construction., Inc. Our goal is to fulfill the dreams of many people by providing a living environment that just cannot be found in this geographic region.

And the D&C article with a synopsis on most all of the projects, grouped together, with the actual number of condo's/apts. mentioned. Something the drivel from the developers/builders, didn't.


Aimee K. Wiles

Realtor Gar Lowenguth inside 228 South Avenue in Rochester which is being turned into loft-style condos. Lowenguth is listing the building for developer Pat D'Andria.
New sales plan aloft
Developers, buyers show more interest in city condos.

By David Tyler
Democrat and Chronicle

(January 31, 2003) -- Until recently, if you wanted to live in one of Rochester's growing number of converted loft apartments, you had to be willing to rent. Soon, you will be able to own.

Several developers say they are considering adding condominiums to their redevelopment plans. But their decision hinges on consumer demand, which seems to be increasing, thanks to low interest rates.

Developer Pat D'Andria has decided to turn 228 South Ave. into 13 loft-style condos. D'Andria will lease the building first, offering the units as apartments until the condo conversion process is complete. The renters will have an option to buy. Real estate agent Gar Lowenguth, who is listing the building for D'Andria, said he hopes to have the conversion completed by the end of the year.

The idea, Lowenguth said, is to bring something different to the housing market. ''In Rochester, you didn't have that alternative.''

Prices for the lofts will range from $140,000 to $240,000, he said. Lowenguth said he is so excited about the potential for condo conversions that he is working on two other projects. He declined to offer details.

Lowenguth said he received more than 120 calls about the space. ''I put the sign out and things just went crazy,'' he said. About 10 of the units are leased.

John Billone Jr. of Flower City Management, says he has received some interest from potential buyers in condos at his Medical Arts Building, 277 Alexander St. But Billone said he needs to see some more interest before making a decision.

Billone said he also is considering turning the old gymnasium at Sacred Heart Academy on Prince Street into about nine condos. Flower City renovated the old school building into loft apartments.

Billone said he decided not to proceed immediately at the Medical Arts building after an engineering study he commissioned suggested that banks might be reluctant to finance such a project. But Billone said he is not dissuaded.

''There is a market for it, I'm convinced. But sometimes it's tough to be the first person to do it.''

Not only is there a demand for the cool space provided by loft renovations, but low interest rates are making ownership easier, said Heidi Zimmer-Meyer, president of the Rochester Downtown Development Corp.

''If you're going to pay $1,000, $1,200 or $1,500 a month for one of these places, a lot of people are thinking, 'Why not earn some equity at the same time?' '' she said.

There are currently 77 renovated rental lofts downtown, Zimmer-Meyer said. An additional rentals 93 are in development. No other developers have committed to condos, she said, but many are looking.

John Piper, chief executive officer of the Realtors association, said loft-style space appeals to people who have owned houses and don't want to rent.

''They may want something different than the house with a yard,'' he said. ''They've been there and done that.''

Drew Costanza, who with his brother Jim is redeveloping the 14-story Temple Building on Franklin Street into a mix of lofts and office space, said he has received calls asking about buying one of the units. For now, though, the Costanzas are sticking to rentals.

''It's a question of whether you want to get paid up front or keep that revenue stream over the long term,'' Drew Costanza said.

Costanza said the lengthy, paperwork-filled process of converting to a condominium is also a deterrent. Developers must wait for the New York Attorney General's office to approve a condo conversion and approval can take up to a year.

That doesn't mean the Costanzas won't consider condos in the future.

The lure of unique spaces is attractive to Seth Kircher, 30, a Rochester resident who recently toured the South Avenue lofts. Kircher said he wants to support housing downtown, live in a ''different'' type of place, and likes the notion that he could sublease while building equity.

''Ultimately it looks like a good investment, too,'' he said.

Developers also are starting to think that. Even with 200 units available ''you're still talking about a very small segment of the market,'' Lowenguth said. ''I think there's plenty of room to grow.'' *

As I write this, I have no idea if the pictures I've downloaded are going to show up once I hit, "Post Quick Reply," so if they don't, I will have to put in the web link to ensure that purpose.
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Old August 5th, 2005, 06:00 PM   #11
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Figures...they didn't show up. "Mr. Computer Literacy." Yup, that's me...lol
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Old August 5th, 2005, 06:27 PM   #12
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Try this for one of the more exciting projects in WNY:

http://www.thesagamoreoneast.com/
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Old August 5th, 2005, 06:28 PM   #13
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so there we have it, ownership of these loft joints are dependent on interest rates remaining low, this might be a key to infill in all the big Rust Belt cities of years past.

The old buildings provided huge areas, now not used, but converted they become awsome livable places worth more than 10 warehouses...and they usually have one hell of a view.

Buffalo and Rochester are both seeing this, hell Batavia even is...it's great because it leads to increased foot traffic and creation of residential neighborhoods ontop of commerical ones.

so where is all the construction for lofts and conversions in Rochester? inside the loop or outside and what streets?
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Old August 5th, 2005, 06:29 PM   #14
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The Sagamore on East will be a real gem once its completed, some real high end living in the middle of the cities most popular area.

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Old August 5th, 2005, 06:43 PM   #15
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This site gives you an overall view of the projects taking place in or near DT Rochester:

http://www.rochester-citynews.com/pd...developing.pdf
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Old August 5th, 2005, 06:55 PM   #16
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This is another article giving you a bit more information on some of the newer projects coming of age:


Loft Living: Tech Culture Comes Home
by Justin Ziemniak
Loft living has become common with high-tech and business professionals with money to spare and the need for no-maintenance living.


They’re nothing like you’ve seen before... or at least I hadn’t envisioned the appeal until I took a tour of the Costanza Enterprises Inc.’s (CEI) loft apartments in the architectural and historic, 14-story Temple Building in downtown Rochester. Seeing what the hype is about, if I was a bachelor, I’d ditch my 2-story colonial for a trendy, industrial-décor loft apartment in a heartbeat.

Loft living is usually the result of old manufacturing, warehouse, or office buildings that have been converted into light, bright, open-style living or office spaces. They usually include an abundance of large windows with spectacular views, 25 foot ceilings, hardwoods or polished concrete floors, exposed brick and beam ceilings, exposed utilities and ductwork, and laundry hookups. You’ll find very few walls in most loft apartments, which makes for a very open, inviting living space with lots of natural light.

Loft space architecture is a mixture between modern décor with a striking commercial space or industrial edifice. High-tech gadgetry, alarm systems, high-speed Internet, several phone lines, and stainless steel kitchen appliances and accessories are the norm. Techies love these kinds of spaces because they offer wide open workspaces, can be used for both work and home living, and are normally central to large downtown businesses, restaurants, and entertainment venues.

With professionals and techies the prime target for loft apartments, developers make sure all the technological amenities are available to tenants. An abundance of Ethernet, cable and phone connections are typical, and many developers (such as CEI) have lit up their establishments with wireless Internet access.

“Connectivity is an expectation of the type of individual who is looking for loft living space,” claims Sean Phelani, Director of Project Development for the Rochester Downtown Development Corporation (RDDC). “It’s expected that Internet and other technology conveniences be there. When showing developers what we’re doing here in terms of loft spaces, they are blown away at how advanced the offerings are here in Rochester.”

CEI has went as far as purchasing their own telecommunications riser for the Temple Building so tenants can have their choice of providers when it comes to data and telecommunications services. In addition, fiber optic already installed throughout the living spaces will be ready for next-generation technologies such as video-on-demand and other data-driven services.

According to the 2004 RDDC housing survey, as of March 31st, 2004, there were 151 loft rental units available in the Rochester market, with 64 under construction and 18 more planned. Popular current loft spaces in downtown Rochester include the Knowlton Building, Michaels Stern Building, Smith-Gormley Building, and the Temple Building. According to the RDDC survey, there are 14 total loft living buildings, with more under construction.

Another big loft project going on right now (in addition to the Temple Building) is the 9-story Medical Arts Building renovation at 277 Alexander Street, which is slated to offer 31 loft apartments, according to the RDDC report. Flower City Management is renovating the building and converting the top three floors to luxury Manhattan Style apartments with roof decks, terraces, fireplaces, high-tech security system, and high-speed Internet. As extensive as it may sound, they plan to have apartments ready this year.

Loft apartments have been a boon to city living in major metropolitan areas like New York City and Boston, and only in past years have they been developed in the Rochester area. Lofts are becoming so popular and demand is so high that developers can’t furnish them fast enough. In fact, Costanza has sold out of their available lofts, except for two 1675+ sq. ft. loft penthouses on the 13th floor, which won’t be available until October. The remaining units have already pre-leased.

The majority of loft livers happen to be single professional males. Residents at the Temple Building lofts, located on Franklin Street include CEOs, Executive VP’s of major corporations, and other high-income, singles. According to Jennifer Hessley, Site Manager for the Temple Building, “75% of our residents are out-of-towners. They’re mostly highly-professional people in top management positions who relocated from big cities such as Boston, Manhattan and Houston. Our out-of-town tenants found out about us by searching the Internet and we conducted the whole transaction over the Net. The application process was simple with applications, floor plans, and CAD drawings being sent as PDF files, and the only face-to-face part of the deal was when I handed them the keys.”

“The main benefit for us moving into the Temple Building lofts was the ability to achieve commercial space without having to go through the official leasing agreements,” said Joe Morin, owner of ebizsitedesigns.com, who recently moved into the loft space in the Temple Building. He and girlfriend Mara chose the work-live loft space design so that they can operate their website design business there with separate address for the business and a professional atmosphere to invite clients to compared to a traditional home-based office. “We’re trying to obtain higher profile clients and the loft environment we chose that has a connected - but separate - work area makes our company office more official,” Morin added.

The Temple Building started out as a combination church and office space building in 1925. The temple was the venue for popular hotspot Heaven nightclub, which occupied the space in the ‘90’s. Today the temple sits idle, with future plans for the space undecided. The rest of the building is broken down into ½ office space and ½ residential loft space. Lofts reside on floors 2-7 and 13-14, with the latter being large, penthouse lofts.

The Temple Building lofts come in many different configurations, including six different one bedroom configurations, one studio layout, and 2 bedroom floor plans. Studios are priced at $750/month, 1 bedrooms fall in the range of $1,100– $1,650/mo, and 2-bedroom penthouses cost from $1,775–$2,050. You might say “that’s a mortgage payment,” but it’s the convenience of being in the city, the industrial atmosphere, no-maintenance living, and trendy lifestyle you are paying for. Not to mention, heated indoor parking garage, cleaning service, dry cleaning service, on-site security personnel, video phone intercom for the main entrance, digital ‘key fobs’ which wirelessly gain residents access to perimeter doors and unlock their floor when using the elevator, easy Internet connectivity, and the most beautiful city scenery outside your wall of windows.

“We’re fully wired for the future,” claims CEI President James Costanza. “We applied for economic development grants, and wired up the whole building in 2000. Each unit includes two Cat 5e, five fiber optic, cable and phone connections, plus our $20/month wireless Internet access, which transmits through the entire building, even outside and down Main Street.”

“Having so many different connections gives us a lot of flexibility in terms of connectivity and allows us to take advantage of future technology that becomes available,” says Morin. “The various connections are a real nice option, and we will probably utilize them sometime in the future. For now, we are a Road Runner Business Class customer, and have access to the wireless Internet offered in the building for redundancy.”

As I previously mentioned, loft apartments get leased quick, so finding available loft apartments may be tough. However, in searching the Rochester Downtown.com website, I found 16 lofts apartments available for rent. But if you’d rather buy than rent a loft living space, you may be in luck. According to the RDDC, 13 loft condos are to be constructed at Washington Square by American Site Developers. Unit pricing is not available nor is a construction completion date. Company officials could not be reached for details.

If you’re a single professional with a knack for high-tech, high-fashion, and high prestige, loft apartments may just be for you. Expect mortgage-like pricing, but there are many benefits that your money pays for. If you operate a small business, a work-live loft is ideal as you have a separate office area to bring clients into, closed off from the rest of your living area.

Keep your eyes peeled to the downtown developers, as many other old buildings may begin the conversion process, making them the next offering of loft apartments. It’s exciting to think of the possibilities from which old, architectural buildings can become beautiful places to live with the whole techie lifestyle theme.

Related Links:


Temple Building
Rochester Downtown Development Corporation
Medical Arts Building lofts
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Old August 5th, 2005, 06:59 PM   #17
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Forgot to add--Welcome to our fine little Northeast homesite, blangjr21. Good to have another Rochesterian aboard!!

Tell your friends! It get's might lonely in here being the only guy representin' da Roch! lol
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Old August 5th, 2005, 07:12 PM   #18
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Add these to the growing list of downtown residential properties. It's to be called, "Capron South Lofts."

I have nothing substantial to view on this upcoming project. All I know is that there is slated to be a total of 13 condo's within this building, but have no info on how much they will be priced at. Please read below for a much better description than I can provide.


228 South Ave. -- Capron South Lofts (Coming Soon)
Rochester, NY

Description: UNDER CONSTRUCTION---Lofts with Location. With a goal of welcoming residents in early 2007, American Site Developers have completed Phase I of the redevelopment of this multi-story building on the south side of the Washington Square neighborhood.

Skylights will light the fifth floor residences, and each of the other units will be flooded by the natural light provided by enormous turn-of-the-century window casements. Immediately adjacent to GeVa Theatre, the Lofts are within walking distance of numerous corporate towers, entertainment and restaurant venues, as well as the Genesee River. In addition to striking river and skyline views, residents will enjoy quick access to the Inner Loop and 490.

Amenities: Security, High Speed Internet, Cable Hookup, Balconies, Updated Kitchen, Elevators, ADA compliant, Laundry Hookups
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Old August 5th, 2005, 07:14 PM   #19
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There will be a total of 13 loft-style condo's in the Capron South Lofts. Sorry. I left that out of the original article.
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Old August 5th, 2005, 07:17 PM   #20
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This article could have been written for both Rochester and Buffalo (from the D&C):

The Key to ‘Re-Creating’ Downtown is More People
June 28, 2005



In the early 1990s, then Rochester City Councilman Gary Muldoon led a one-person campaign against downtown skyways.'I understand why people want them,' he said recently, after an expert panel recommended that we get rid of them. 'They are convenient and very nice,' especially in very hot or icy weather. 'But they take people off the streets,' killing street activity and storefront retail. And that's pretty much what happened along Main Street.The skyways 'add to the cocooning that's going on in our society,' Muldoon says. And if you're going to have a vital town center, people have to get out of their cocoons and interact.


Now that the Urban Land Institute has agreed with him, Muldoon jokes that he may have 'I told you so' chiseled into his gravestone.Getting rid of the skyways has always seemed like a smart idea to me, too, so I was pleased to see it included in the institute's list of suggestions. In 10 years, or maybe 15, we'll know if today's ripples of new construction and sudden splashes of ideas were the start of a downtown re-creation.Clearly, something is happening. There is at least a mini-housing boom under way, especially in the East End area, where Sagamore on East is selling high-end penthouse units. Symphony Place, Chevy Place, and the well-established Grove Place are thriving.


There is additional new housing in the Water Street area, the St. Paul Quarter, and in the Cascade District off West Main Street. Corn Hill Landing, under construction, will add more units to the mix, as will Capron South Lofts, at South Avenue and the Inner Loop.


In this context, the report may tell us something about where we are heading - or where we could be heading.The institute, based in Washington, D.C., has recommended transformative projects in more than 400 communities around the world. The panel used the word 're-create' to describe its plans for downtown Rochester - a sweeping series of changes that would breathe new life into the city and connect the east and west sides, now separated by empty spaces along Main Street. The panel says the city should demolish Midtown, except for the tower and the Euclid Building and fill in the vacant space with a park and new housing, convert the former Sibley's store to apartments, and add housing, retail and maybe an elementary school at St. Joseph's Square.


The Urban Institute also recommended building the transit center, part of the proposed Renaissance Center complex, above, not below, ground. It recommended against a casino, noting that casinos are designed to keep people off the streets and often have a negative impact on their neighbors. It recommended relocating the small Midtown Plaza stores to Main Street storefronts.


And most important, the panel creating a City Center Authority - with city and county officials included, but with a strong private sector presence - with the power to set priorities and drive developments forward. 'I found the suggestions almost startling,' says Jim Costanza, who co-owns the Temple Building, which now houses loft apartments, near the Liberty Pole. 'It seemed so accurate about what we need.' It is too soon to know if we have reached a turning point, but clearly - and often quietly - a new center city has started to emerge. And finally, people have started to understand that to make downtown work, we need to put more people on the streets - not help them get off the streets.
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