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(The above images are from Philip Michael Brown Studio, which is working with Buckingham Properties.)

Buckingham Properties has huge dreams for the Tower at Midtown. The upper floors will be apartments. The lower floors offer an opportunity for retail and offices.

The developer is clearly is thinking outside of the box. This vision of heavy retail at the Midtown site would truly change the face of downtown. The renderings make the Tower at Midtown look like a mall that faces outward, with street-level retail.

Buckingham is very optimistic about its talks with national movie theater chains. The mayor has often talked of a movie theater at Midtown. Seeing how a private developer would be behind the project, it may not require the $1 surcharge she floated. There would still be room on the Midtown site for a performing arts center, another thing the mayor wants.

Buckingham has a track record of success. It’s hard to imagine a national theater chain coming in that hasn’t done market research. Downtown offers other entertainment options, such as sporting events, so why not movies?

Let’s remember, we all used to go to Midtown Plaza at one point. We parked underneath the mall. Midtown fell victim to the suburban malls and suburban lifestyle. But if Buckingham finds the right mix of retail, restaurants and entertainment, this grand plan to draw people downtown could work.

People will live above this complex. The East End is a stone’s throw away. Corn Hill is less than a mile away. There’s a customer base within walking distance and another one within driving distance that is sick of bland offerings in the suburbs.

(I wonder about the impact on The Little Theatre, which is undergoing renovations. The Little will still likely be cheaper, but can it compete on comfort and offerings? The Little does offer major movies, not just small films we’ve never heard of.)

I’m cautiously optimistic about Buckingham’s dream. Maybe hopeful is a better word. What do you think?


Links of the Day:


– Buckingham Properties is also about to start work on the north campus of Alexander Park, which is the old Genesee Hospital site. This has been a long time coming.

– The future of urban freeways is playing out in Syracuse.

– A Rochester developer is facing opposition to a plan to build affordable housing in wealthy Westchester County.

Is there a clown shortage?

10 Responses to Realistic?

  1. February 18, 2014 at 8:25 pm Edward Richards responds:

    “Get your Billion back America”!

  2. February 18, 2014 at 8:29 pm Andrew Zibuck responds:

    Downtown “heavy” retail is the past. Why do people keep trying to recreate it? A theater and PAC are good ideas, but places like Corn Hill, the East end, and especially the South Wedge have their own light retail ecosystems. Midtown should think similarly.

  3. February 18, 2014 at 9:13 pm lellingw responds:

    Midtown was the retail urban renewal project. There needs to be a complete rethinking of downtown. People need to stop doing what is already out there and is in abundance already. The city passed on Marketplace years ago. Why recreate Marketplace now when they are demanding tax breaks to revitalize?

  4. February 19, 2014 at 9:42 am RaChaCha responds:

    Plethora of comments on the renderings on Buffalo Rising, as well. (My goal for today was to find a way to use “plethora” — I can go back to bed now.) Read:

  5. February 19, 2014 at 10:21 am Lee Drake responds:

    This will work only if we can convince people to live downtown – preferably young people and professionals. If you look at the village gate area this mixed-use concept works well. VG has high residency rates in it’s business, retail, educational and apartment spaces. I think it would be a mistake to build this and assume it can be supported by suburban business. It needs to be self-perpetuating like VG is.

  6. February 19, 2014 at 11:38 am theodore kumlander responds:

    I do not think anything will ever be built at the old mid town site. the problems that killed mid town are still there and they are worse. just my humble opinion.

  7. Considering the difficultly lately of securing and keeping local festivals operating thanks to “mob” violence perpetrated on those events by a pre-planned gang show of disruption by minority “youths”, the concept that large scale retail will ever come back to downtown Roch is a pipe dream.

  8. The times… They are a-changin’… Perhaps some of the commenters on here should get out from under their rocks and recognize that the era of the suburban shopping mall is dead. Market preferences are radically changing and inner city locations are increasingly en vogue. Welcome to the 21st Century, Rochester. Your downtown is finally coming back.

  9. There are perhaps 10 major cities with shopping and retail of any volume in their center city in the entire USA.

    Still, including the NYC area, surrounding suburban shopping malls out preform both in revenue and in shopper visits inner city urban shopping areas 10 or more to one. Example– there is one Macy’s in NYC but at least 20 Macy’s stores in NYC’s various Burbs malls. I wonder why?

    If that is the end of the end of the era of Malls, we have yet to see it any where. Simple logic states that people shop near where they live. Far and away more people live in the burbs vs the cities. Far and away more high income residents are in the burbs vs the cities, across this country.

    Any other conclusion ignores basic facts vs wishful thinking. Women and teenagers, the major shopping demographic are going to constantly travel into the cites to shop? Sometimes yes, the majority of the time NO. Women will leave their 14 yr old daughters in the city to shop with friends? I don’t think so.

    In this area as well as most cities in the USA times aren’t changing and wont be in the foreseeable future or our lifetimes when it comes to where most retail shopping will occur.

    What one thinks is cool doesn’t matter. Its where the money is that counts.

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