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Links of the Day:

– Cities across the country are struggling with the fate of their 1970s-era office towers. You know the type: architecturally uninspired, drab and filled with asbestos. The Atlantic singles out Buffalo’s HSBC Center:

The building is likely to see most of its space go dark as soon as 2013, as its two largest tenants move into newly renovated buildings just blocks away. In an attempt to convince HSBC to renew its lease, building owners Seneca One Realty proposed erecting a modern addition on top of its desolate public plaza. But the plan didn’t sway HSBC, and in the meantime another tenant departed after Seneca One could not commit to upgrading its facilities.

Aesthetics and floor widths are not the only issues. Many of these buildings require asbestos removal, provide limited natural lighting and contain outdated technological infrastructures.

City of Rochester Communications Bureau

Rochester’s 1970s towers aren’t doing as badly, though some show signs of trouble. Xerox has not abandoned Xerox Tower. HSBC Plaza is 15 percent vacant, according to Rochester Downtown Development Corporation’s annual market survey. Chase Tower, which was recently renovated, is 24 percent vacant. First Federal is 11 percent vacant. (The saucer on top is currently for rent.)

I suspect the vacancies in Rochester’s 1970s office towers are due to market forces more than the desirability of the space.

Rochester’s 1970s-era housing towers could use some freshening up. I’m a fan of The Hamilton’s paint job. I’d like to see the drab Manhattan Square polished.

– Rochester’s first Sibley’s department store burned down in 1904. The Democrat and Chronicle has an amazing before and after picture.

– “Everyone seems to be singing Kumbaya.” That’s a bad sign, according to former East Rochester school superintendent Howard Maffucci. He blogs about concerns with the new teacher evaluation system. For starters, the state is using tests to measure something they were not scientifically designed to measure.

– There’s a disturbing trend among Albany youth. Girls are getting caught carrying soda bottles filled with bleach, which can be used as weapons.

– Every stay in an ice hotel? Doesn’t sound appealing, but I enjoyed reading about the experience.

2 Responses to Those 1970s Towers

  1. Regrettably, at this point in our city’s history, there aren’t any draws that would bring in people or business. Excuse my French, but: ils n’existe pas, une raison d’être, pour le retrouver de prospérité à Rochester.

  2. There was a protracted process around HSBC Center in Buffalo and renewing them in that location but I think that the recent sale of their branches in Upstate New York probably creates a need for a smaller office footprint to support their remaining non-upstate US operations.

    I think it’s a great question about how we’d approach one of our office towers going dark if that happened in Rochester. Something I’ve seen in other cities but not so much here is some type of hotel concept taking up a portion of the floors in a high rise but still retaining some mixed uses such as office space on some floors. I’m not sure how easy that type of retrofit is in an old building but it’s one way to re-purpose space that is no longer workable for it’s original purpose.

    The other aspect of this is generally around urban design. When they built many of these towers in the 70’s (not just here) it created these “superblocks” that are not as pedestrian friendly and a bit separated from the fabric of downtown life (think of the setbacks and lawn in front of Chase Tower). I’d love to see better integration of the buildings with the rest of the center city.

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