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Greece Ridge FeaturedWe are learning more about the upgrades to Greece Ridge Mall. Specifically, the mall has announced which restaurants will locate into a new wing that will replace the Bon-Ton. The restaurants are Red Robin, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Bar Louie’s and a fourth that has not been named.

The selection is underwhelming. It could also be a sign the upgrades did not go as planned. When lobbying for tax breaks, Wilmorite sold these upgrades as necessary for Greece Ridge’s survival. The message was clear: You don’t want another Medley Centre, right?

The $12-14 million plan promised a “lifestyle redevelopment” with “new, unique restaurants to the Greece area that offer a variety of different cuisines and price ranges.” The eateries may be new to Greece, but only Bar Louie’s is new to Rochester. The restaurants are decidedly not upscale. They pale in comparison to offerings at Eastview, Destiny USA and Walden Galleria.

People on my Facebook page immediately said, “It’s Greece. It’s the west side. People don’t have as much money.” While a lot of the community’s wealth is concentrated on the east side, it’s wrong to assume westsiders don’t have the disposable income to support something more upscale. According to five-year estimates from the census, the median household income in Greece is $55,049, slightly above the county average. One-third of households earn more than $75,000.

Perhaps market research didn’t support higher-end fare. There’s nothing wrong with the restaurants going into the mall. I’m sure they will be patronized. But this isn’t exactly what was promised and it raises questions about the future vitality of the site.

Links of the Day:

– Instead of going through termination hearings, the Rochester City School District often settles charges with teachers. It’s very important to note these charges have never been proven, in many cases.

The Canandaigua VA has a very busy suicide hotline center.

– Heroin addiction is growing in Western New York as painkillers become harder to get.

– Their son jumped to his death from a Buffalo parking garage. Now they are advocates for people with mental illness.

– Stray dogs are killed at shelters more in Syracuse than other Upstate cities.

– A robot that looks like R2D2 fights germs at a Syracuse hospital by blasting ultraviolet light.

– The Buffalo News visits the Trader Joe’s in Pittsford to see what all the fuss is about.

19 Responses to Underwhelmed

  1. These mall-rescue efforts all seem to be geared toward saving / rebuilding mini city centers. They all have the same goal: Create an attractive, accessible, safe, communal place for us to eat, hang-out, shop and have fun. Isn’t that what our real City-Center (Midtown Rochester) should be? How many failed efforts at “mall revitalization” will we need before we realize that we are too decentralized with these efforts. We are spreading ourselves too thin.

    What Greece is really seeking will fail the same way that Medley Center did. Henrietta will never have an attractive town-center either. Websters’ quaint little town is quickly giving way to the same sprawling ugliness. We need to merge all these efforts in Midtown and serve everyone: Greece, Gates, Pittsford, Webster, Victor, and the City (and all the others I missed). Imagine what could be done with the combined resources. A truly awesome destination worthy of out-of-town visitors (and yes, plenty of parking LOL). Mass-transit / light rail to ease the commute. Awesome history and architecture not possible on Ridge Road. I would think people would want this out of home-town pride if not utility. But both arguments are solid.

    • Get real. People like living in the suburbs. And you would throw a fit if they tried to build to DestiNY in downtown Rochester. Where would they put it. DestiNY is pretty much the size of the Inner Loop (http://mapfrappe.com/?show=8732) and that is with a massive underground parking complex. No one wants to drive to the city anymore except to go to work. Stunningly, people like having the things they want close to where they live.

    • Um, we had all that downtown. People stopped going there. You can’t make them come downtown.

  2. @Ed – I guess we’re all doomed then since the suburban mall model is also failing due to over-building and the Internet. 🙂

    I also guess those other cities where people actually like going to the city-center for reasons other than work are somehow clueless. 🙂 Who wants that crazy home-town pride, income, and tourist interest anyway. LOL

    P.S. I would welcome big-box stores and all the rest in Midtown Rochester. We have PLENTY of space and I see no reason the old can’t co-exist with the new / convenient.

  3. February 17, 2013 at 12:11 pm Pat Mannix responds:

    Providence RI redeveloped itself. It did a great job. They have a downtown with a river just like us. Their riverfront is awesome and even has gondollas in summer. They also have a downtown mall built on three or four floors. It fits right in with the rest of the buildings and has all the big box stores people seem to like. They have a tour trolley which is a lot of fun and shares their history. They have good transportation to get around. We stayed two days extra while there for a wedding just because it was so much fun. And did I mention, they have a college with a natural draw, just like us. We are missing the boat just like always. Of course the problem here would be the tax handouts which ultimately increase the poverty in our city which is a huge impediment to development.

  4. Could it be that economic reality is rearing its ugly head and now even artificially “successful” facilities:casinos, convention centers, new stadiums and…malls are finally feeling its effects?
    Relax and try to focus on the positive developments in Rochester…you know,the bus shed that will cost over twice as much as a similar one in Syracuse and that blockbuster redevelopment of Midtown Plaza that looks like a future parking lot for the workers in that dinky Windstream building on the corner of Main and Clinton.
    Good Luck.

  5. When will people learn that developers make promises they don’t keep in order to get tax breaks and taxpayer funding. Mall developers, office building developers and, of course, sports stadiums. It has been going on for years and we still act surprised when it happens. People are stupid and developers know how to extract money from the public that they do not deserve. Shame on the politicians who allow such stuff to go on, decade after decade.

  6. Another waste of tax breaks. While I see the need and positives of smaller town centers in the county, I definitely see the need for a county/city center and we need to stop this waste of tax breaks trying to.create what isn’t while weakening what is or was. We really do need regional land use laws.

  7. I don’t think $75,000 for an entire household equals disposable income, especially with the property tax rates in Greece. My household income is much higher than that and we only go out for upscale dining on special occasions.

  8. February 17, 2013 at 1:13 pm Eduardo Ricardo responds:

    Kudos to dave mckinley on his ub football story. 4th link

  9. February 17, 2013 at 1:15 pm Eduardo Ricardo responds:

    Same for the canandaigua va story. My goodness.

  10. This is definitely worth a read. It’s about the history of retail in downtown Salt Lake City, where the LDS Church just built an insane new luxury mall. (The indoor creek is stocked with trout!) The article questions the wisdom of favoring giant corporations over the locally owned businesses that built and sustained Main Street for decades. It also provides an overview of the history of downtown SLC, which mirrors that of downtown Rochester. According to the video, SLC’s Gateway Mall beat out Crossroads Mall and the ZCMI Shopping Center (both since torn down) because it more closely imitates the classic pedestrian-oriented urban shopping experience – despite its focus on corporate chain stores you can find anywhere in America.

    “Many say that they like it here because it offers the feel of a real city street. Exactly what Main Street lacks today. However, Gateway is lacking in something too: local retailers and unique city charm.”

    If you still want brick-and-mortar retail, bring back Main Street. Think about it: one of the big reasons people buy online is because it’s convenient. No need to spend money on gas and drive several miles just to pick up a couple of items. Walkable neighborhoods offer a similar advantage: you shop where you live. The indoor shopping mall of the ’80s is an outdated model.

  11. February 17, 2013 at 1:29 pm DominionROC responds:

    I had exactly the same reaction to the disclosure of the new restaurants to occupy portions of the Greece Mall….underwhelmed and shocked! Is this how valuable tax money is being spent? This is ridiculous and outrageous and it must be stopped.

    Economic development in Rochester is just a Myth. Over 90% of government funds going for job development are just a form of corporate welfare/political patronage. Just look at the list of companies that get these tax breaks…grocery stores, day care centers, restaurants, adult care facilities, local construction companies, retail centers…etc. We are just shuffling jobs from one location to another …all within the region. Only the specific developer or business benefits….no one else does…especially tax payers.
    And these types of giveaways continue to be made…and are called “economic development” or job creating” schemes!

    Keep your eyes on the city of Rochester as it plans to spend over $20 million in cash capital to build a yacht basin at the Port of Rochester. This will benefit only boat owners and a few apartments that overlook the marina. How is this economic development? Again…economic development is a myth in Rochester. Our region will never progress if we continue with these schemes and select more boondoggles!

  12. What a pathetic collection of restaurants – paid for by taxpayers funding the area’s richest developer. It is likely much of this would have happened WITHOUT taxpayers kicking anything in. Victor already has Moe’s Southwest Grill, and it didn’t take taxpayer dollars to attract the restaurant.

    This feeding at the public trough by rich developers like the Wilmots has to stop. All this does is create an unlevel playing field, screwing restaurants that are run by people that are not connected with the Wilmot’s and Wilmorite and benefitting those that play political games. Government has NO BUSINESS being in the restaurant business, and that includes Tom Richards’ Pier 45 which pays no sales taxes for supplies, nothing for rent and gets lots of other freebies – and loses hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. Get government out of the restaurant business!!!!!!

  13. I’m fine with these. They seem to be perfect mall type places. You can actually take your family and not go broke. Upscale??? That type is NOT for a mall. As for the issue of tax breaks…not a concern to me. I believe we need to abandon the concept of taxing businesses to support the spending of government. Just my thoughts.

  14. February 17, 2013 at 10:29 pm RaChaCha responds:

    What, no Applebees in there?!

    I bet many of the town leaders and decision makers thought that Wilmorite was going to build Greece a Pittsford Plaza West. I’d love to know what they think now that they’ve been splashed in the face by the reality of the far far lesser thing they’re actually getting.

  15. February 18, 2013 at 2:51 pm dan pearl responds:

    My wife and I live in Greece and head to the east side or down town every week to visit the upscale “eateries.” We’ve got a wide circle of friends and family lamenting the absence of them on the west side. There’s a few, but not many.

  16. February 19, 2013 at 1:22 pm Peking Humonculous responds:

    That’s exactly what they deserve for giving the Wilmots/Wilmorite yet ANOTHER tax break.

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