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Rendering of College Town

Rendering of College Town


College Town is taking shape. At a groundbreaking ceremony this week, the list of tenants was named:

  • 150 apartments
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Moe’s Southwest Grill,
  • Corner Bakery and Cafe
  • Flight Wine Bar
  • Benucci’s
  • Saxby’s Coffee & Yogurtland
  • Flower City Provisions
  • Hilton Garden Inn & Conference Center

The $100 million project will also have a 1,560-space parking garage.

The project got a $20 million government loan, to paid back with money that would have gone to the city’s property taxes. It also benefits from $17 million in infrastructure improvements and a $4 million state grant.

The project claims it will generate $49 million in sales and income taxes over the next 10 years. That kind of math assumes we weren’t going to go out and spend our money elsewhere in the community. It assumes the 320 workers wouldn’t have found other low-paying retail jobs. Retail is not good economic development.

The number to look it as how much College Town will be paying in property taxes. Its PILOT calls for $4.8 million over the next 10 years. Not enough for the city to recoup its investment over that time period. (At the end of those 10 years, the roads will probably need repaving, too.) Meantime, the city is crying to Albany that it can’t raise enough revenue in property taxes.

I truly believe this project will be wonderful for the University of Rochester and Mt. Hope neighborhood. But given the fact the retail space is already leased out by tenants catering to a well-to-do crowd, it’s hard to believe this project couldn’t have happened on its own without such heavy taxpayer investment.

Links of the Day:


– Many students struggled with the new state tests and couldn’t finish.

A Buffalo suburb gets hip to public transit.

Just call it “The Wire: Albany Edition.”

– In Gloversville, Sno Cone Joe is charged with stalking Mr. Ding-A-Ling.

– I was a guest on The Wease Show and talked about the other side of the Spider-Man shoot. Listen here.

5 Responses to Do the Math on College Town

  1. Given that U of R owned the land before hand, were they paying any property tax before hand (since they are a non-profit)? So wouldn’t that imply that any property tax at all would be a net benefit on the city’s ledger?

    Also, *we* the residents of the city may have spent our money elsewhere, but what about the residents of the college, many who without cars don’t have many other places to spend their money other than on campus. How much money did you spend at Collegetown in Cornell, which I imagine would be U of R’s goal to replicate here (if that is successful is a whole different question).

    And Mt Hope needed to be repaved (so does Elmwood there, badly), probably not for $18 million though (and the headaches that the last two summers have brought to residents of the area).

    I think the $100million they got for the new off-ramp from 390 is much more egregious than collegetown, which hopefully will bring some life to the area around the college.

  2. May 4, 2013 at 12:59 pm Orielly responds:

    The UR has close to 2B in the bank in endowments and revenues likely over 3B a year. They make lots of profit..they just don’t have to pay tax on it. The land that college will use was tax free but did generate tax revenue before… IT WAS GIVEN to the UR by the city. Where is the UR’s investment in this project?

    The building of Tax Free Town…or sorry College town will generate infinitesimally small additional tax revenue from the students over what they would normally spend.

    The “hidden” story here is that a Developer will make lots of money off all of this. The building, the rent, the tax free status, and that developer is from Cleveland, not even in NYS or Rochester. Why? Because the UR couldn’t “find” a local developer who shared “their vision”.

    If your taking our tax money to do a developement, use a local company to develop the project and keep the revenue and profit in the Rochester area.

  3. May 4, 2013 at 1:21 pm Animule responds:

    Corporate welfare at its best. An orgy of public tax dollars spent on what is likely the wealthiest corporation or organization north of Westchester county. Gotta love Seligman too; sits on the board over at Kodak and keeps that lunkhead Perez in place after this genius bet the company on inkjet printers trying to create “little HP” and came up empty. Thanks for nothing, Joel.

  4. May 4, 2013 at 3:02 pm DominionROC responds:

    Economic Development projects are riddled with abuse and ineffectiveness. With a stagnate population these projects are just shuffling rentals and retail from one site in the county to another site….no “net” economic gain other than FAT profits for the development companies.

    Just prepare for another economic development boondoggle at the Port of Rochester this fall. The city will spend between $20 and $30 million digging a massive hole in the ground for a semi-private Yacht basin and at the same time eliminate one-half of the current parking spots. Its just pure financial/economic insanity! Sure public dollars should go towards building/improving our region…but most of the time …the benefit is narrowly isolated to the rich and powerful in Rochester. When will this insanity end?

  5. May 4, 2013 at 3:13 pm bill responds:

    So, the city spends $17mill on roads and might have to swallow some of the $20 mill loan they are responsible to pay, but.get on behalf of the development, and hopefully will get some taxes after 10 years? So we have anywhere from a 17 to 37 million investment in a clearly successful project, and will need tp provide services for 150+ apartments and a new street. I thought the city wad broke and is threatening cuts to fire and police. Surely, someone in city all is a moron or a liar.

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