Rochester is seeking developers interested in restarting the La Marketa project. The city has long-envisioned a commercial district that not only benefits the neighborhood, but becomes a destination. La Marketa would presumably focus on the area’s heritage as home to thousands of Latinos.
Previous efforts to build something on the 1.66 acre site have failed. A recent study by Ingalls Planning & Design states the obvious:
In the case of North Clinton Avenue, the appearance of safety is poor. Clearly, drug dealing is an issue on the street as well as other crimes that go along with drugs. This issue is a critical one to deal with in order to go forward. Economic development programs will have less impact if the street continues to look crime ridden. Another important issue in the appearance of safety is the fact that many stores have metal screens that gives the street a fortress appearance.
But the study also shares some details about the North Clinton corridor that present both opportunity and challenges:
– There are 50 storefronts on North Clinton. Fifteen of them are convenience stores. About half of the storefronts have a recognizable Latino name. There are 21 vacant lots.
– Between 12,000 and 16,000 cars drive on North Clinton every day. That’s comparable to St. Paul Street, Portland Ave., and North Goodman Street.
– One-third of households in the neighborhood do not have cars. That compares to one-fourth of city households and one-tenth of county households that are without vehicles.
– The neighborhood’s population has declined from more than 10,000 people in 1990 to 8,000 in 2010.
– Hispanics make up 39 percent of the population.
– The median household income is $21,307. Forty percent of households earn less than $15,000.
The study found the area’s reputation, derelict properties and small size are weaknesses to development. Strengths include density, high traffic, low land costs and a strong neighborhood association.
It would be nice to see North Clinton Avenue become a regional destination for Latino food and shops, and the study’s authors think that is possible. Latinos have a long tradition in the neighborhood; it’s time to capitalize on it. But it’s clear there are significant challenges to making it happen.