The city has posted the results of its online survey about downtown Rochester. The survey will be used to update the Center City Master Plan. Almost all of the respondents to the unscientific poll were white.
The results were not surprising. People want a reason to come downtown. They want retail, restaurants and entertainment. Let’s take them one by one:
Retail: There’s clearly limited retail downtown. I forgot to buy a lime at Wegmans and had to go all the way back to East Ave. Wegmans from Corn Hill because I couldn’t think of a closer place that was guaranteed to have a lime. Retail follows rooftops, and as the downtown population grows, we will see more stores crop up.
Restaurants: This was in curious to me. I don’t need to travel far to find great restaurants downtown. Corn Hill Landing and the East End are filled with great places to eat. Just outside of downtown, there’s Village Gate, University Ave. and Monroe Avenue. Don’t forget Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and Tapas! If you want national chain restaurants, stay in the ‘burbs.
Entertainment: We have a lot of entertainment downtown. Party in the Park, noontime concert series, Eastman Theater, Blue Cross Arena, Hochstein, Red Wings, Knighthawks, Razorsharks and Amerks. If the city was serious about increasing entertainment options, it would look closely at putting a performing arts center at Midtown. (RBTL has its sights on Medley Centre, which would be a huge loss for the city.)
The second biggest reason people don’t come downtown is they feel unsafe. That’s a hugely disappointing, but not unexpected response. Downtown is one of the safest places in the city. Unfortunately, the nonsense at the Liberty Pole and Monroe Community College’s whining hurt. The police department is right to bring back the downtown substation, which is going in the Sibley Building. I suspect as more people and businesses move into downtown, it will feel safer. Right now, it can feel very lonely and empty on a weeknight or Sunday afternoon.
The third biggest reason people don’t come downtown is it isn’t aesthetically pleasing. The city does a great job keeping downtown clean. The only part of downtown that’s ugly is Main and Clinton. Huge parts of Main Street are under construction or vacant. That contributes to people feeling unsafe and it’s not a pleasant walk.
The fourth biggest reason people don’t come downtown is lack of close parking. That’s nonsense. If you have to walk a block or two, it’s no different than parking in a mall lot to get to a store. Seriously, think about how much walking you do at Eastview Mall. Downtown Rochester doesn’t have a parking problem. It has a walking problem.
Survey respondents said the city’s biggest downtown priority should be Midtown. I agree. The tower project will be tremendous for the site and all of downtown. But I’ve been extremely disappointed in the city’s deliberately slow approach to recruiting other developers to fill up the remaining parcels. The mayor has said it will take 10 years. That’s unacceptable.
Links of the Day:
– Onondaga County spent $4,000 apiece on “smart trash cans.”
– Rep. Tom Reed could find himself in a fight for his seat in 2014.
– The state Department of Education should let this Western New York boy with disabilities stay on his school track team.
– The state ordered a food truck called “Wandering Dago” out of the Saratoga Race Course.
– David Carr writes brilliantly on the outrage over the Rolling Stone cover. “The misery of some should not determine the value to the whole.”
– Are you a fan of HBO’s “The Newsroom?” Even if you are not, you might enjoy this takedown of the show – and the TV news industry.
– Here’s why we should be concerned about the rise of the warrior cop and the militarization of our police departments.
— Ed Yong (@edyong209) July 21, 2013