Maybe I missed something.
For years now, local media, including this blog, have shared renderings of a dense housing, retail and hotel development at the Port of Rochester. The media also extensively reported on a groundbreaking celebration of a $20 million marina designed to spur this development.
This was the plan all along!
Let’s discuss some of the major concerns that have arisen, now that the city has chosen a developer for the site.
1. Is there are a market for this type of development, including very expensive condos?
The developer, Edgewater Resources, says in its proposal that it will market the units to young professionals and empty nesters:
Sales prices will start at $199,000 for an 800sf one bedroom unit, $349,000 for a 1,100sf two bedroom unit, and $599,000 for a 2,200sf three-bedroom units. Prices will increase based on the floor (higher floors will command higher prices), views, and amenities. Penthouse units will range from $900,000 – $1.2 million.
On young professionals:
The young professionals are a group of highly
educated successful younger professionals looking for a unique urban lifestyle that combines the convenience of a low maintenance/high service home with a walkable urban environment filled with local shops and restaurants. This group generally has yet to start a family and is often more focused on convenience, amenities, and location rather than second
bedrooms and extra space. Located within walking distance of Ontario Beach Park, the pier, Genesee Riverway Trail, and the new Port of Rochester Marina and promenade, Waterfront Rochester will provide a live/work/play lifestyle unavailable anywhere else in Rochester.
On empty nesters:
Coupled with views of the lake and convenient access to boating, the beach, and local restaurants, we believe this market will be very interested in Waterfront Rochester, particularly since there are no similar homes or condominiums available in this area. The resort rental condominiums are conveniently located in the project so that when the children of the empty-nesters come to visit, they can stay in the adjoining hotel or rent a resort condominium for an extended stay.
Empty nesters and young professionals are driving this type of housing. They don’t have children and they don’t want houses in the suburbs. We’ve already seen these market segments drive new housing downtown. That new downtown housing isn’t cheap. See the Sagamore, Capron Lofts, Temple Building, Chevy Place, H.H. Warner, Corn Hill Landing and Erie Harbor to get an idea of rents and sale prices. If empty nesters and young professionals can be lured to the port, this could very well work.
Why would anyone want to live at the port? Have you checked condo prices on the bay? Beach Ave. real estate? Offer a quality waterfront project and people will pay big bucks.
2. Low income housing is part of this proposal?
I don’t see “low-income” anywhere in this proposal. The developer makes reference to “affordable” units on the lower floors, similar to The Mills at High Falls. Affordable housing is not the same as low income housing. One of the Edgewater partners worked on The Mills, where there are units set aside for people who make 50, 60 and 90 percent of the area media income. The median household income in Monroe County is $52,700. Rents at The Mills are between $525 and $1,090. This is a true mixed-income project, one many of us could qualify to call home.
Another example of a mixed income project is Erie Harbor, where most apartments are renting for more than $1,000. A couple dozen of the 130 units are affordable. There’s a low-income high-rise right next door. That isn’t deterring people from moving into the expensive units.
If developers want city and county handouts – and they all do – they often have to agree to make their projects accessible to all. College Town will also have a handful of affordable units.
3. About those tax subsidies…This will be another fast ferry!
The subsidies are coming in the form of the city building the marina and putting in the infrastructure. The city is laying the groundwork for this project, as it did with Corn Hill Landing and Brooks Landing. There will be additional expenses, if the city gives the developer a break on the land and the project gets tax incentives from COMIDA.
What are the risks? The risk would be the marina is empty and no one wants to move into the apartments. The port landscape would be permanently altered for something that didn’t live up to expectations.
The possible benefits are a return to the glory days of the port, when it was alive with people and businesses. The city and county would get lots of tax revenue from residents, businesses and tourists.
The port is a beach, a boardwalk, a smattering of business and a giant parking that sits empty most of the year.
The development would have its own parking, which would include underground spaces.
Public parking spaces would be greatly diminished under the plan. According to the city’s environmental impact statement, 452 parking spaces would disappear in Phase I of the development. There would be 735 public parking spaces left. On Friday nights, the peak demand for parking was 710 spaces, so there would be enough parking. On Saturdays, peak demand was 786 spaces, so there would be a deficit of 51 spaces.
When the project is fully developed, there will be 516 public parking spots. There will be anticipated shortfall of 200-270 spaces on the highest-demand days and nights.
Special events pose a challenge, as 1,700 cars try to cram into the lots. That’s already a big issue, especially on Wednesday nights for the Concerts at the Shore.
The parking study’s authors state the obvious:
“As development in the Port area continues, the need for more remote parking and frequent transit buses operating on established routes with direct service to the port will increase.”
The study suggests using high tech systems on the roadways leading into the port to alert drivers about parking and traffic conditions, and direct them to shuttle lots.
Rochester, we have a choice. We can keep sea of asphalt at the port to make sure you get a parking spot on the 10 days a year the port parking is at capacity. Or we can make the port a place where there’s demand more than 10 days a year.
Bergmann’s traffic study found entries to the port will continue to operate at a good level of service when the project is built out in 2020:
“The number of new trips on the roadway system generated by new development at the Port is projected to be 552, 218 and 562 during the Friday 6:30-7:30 p.m. peak, the Friday 8:30-9:30 p.m. peak and the Saturday 3:30-4:30 p.m. respectively.
Latta Road west of Lake Avenue is expected to carry 5% of the new traffic, 20% on the Lake Ontario State Parkway west of Lake Avenue, 30% on the Lake Ontario State Parkway east of Lake Avenue and the remaining 35% on Lake Avenue south of the Lake Ontario State Parkway.
The study didn’t find much difference in traffic flow whether this thing is built or not, although it did suggest some signal timing changes.
5. It’s too dense and it’s ugly.
I think we need to see more from the developer. The renderings look very crude. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the architecture, but that’s where the planning and design process plays a role. The public will also be able to weigh in.
The scale seems daunting. But there needs to be a critical mass to make the whole thing work.
Links of the Day:
– If New York’s standardized tests are so wonderful, release all of the questions and let the public decide.
– Frontier spend $326 million to improve Internet speeds in Upstate New York.
– Buffalo is making a canal replica the focus of downtown development.
– There is no war on cars. But should there be?
– Amazing graphic of how Americans die.
– Golf is dying. Would bigger holes attract players?
– A college president is worried students will take selfies with him as he hands them their diplomas.
– Lead story on D&C website this morning was about burying a statue to help sell your home.