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The City of Rochester has a big choice to make about the Midtown Plaza site. Midtown Tower and Windstream are all set, but the fate of rest of the mega-block is still up in the air.

The mayor would like to see a performing arts center. Developer Larry Glazer, who is doing the tower, would like to turn the entire site into a $185 million work-live-play complex. The Democrat and Chronicle reported:

Street-level retailers in The Tower could include Urban Outfitters, LA Fitness and Bar Louie, the plan shows. A two-story addition along Broad Street was designed with a grocery store in mind.


The central Midtown parcel extending to East Main Street would house large-scale retailers on the ground floor such as REI, the development plan shows, with a 10-screen movie theater and possible IMAX on the second level, and a 100-room hotel rising as high as 10 or 12 stories and possibly a 300-space parking garage either below ground or on floors three to five.

On the corner lot that used to house Wegmans, at Broad and South Clinton, there would be small- and large-scale retailers such as LaCoste and Steve Madden, creating a “street of shops” along a pedestrian mall area cutting between that building and The Tower. The concept shows second-floor retail, shown as a Nordstrom Rack, and 60 to 75 apartments on three floors above that.

It sounds really wonderful and I would love to see this kind of life return downtown.

But a city source points out, “We can’t have Medley at Midtown.”

Translation: What if we build all this stuff and it fails? We would have torn down a failing mall and replaced it with another failing retail complex.

I think creating a mixed use project that includes housing and entertainment provides more of a buffer against failure.  But there are many competing projects, including CityGate and College Town. Our population is essentially flat, so building more retail doesn’t create more shoppers. If Glazer can shift shoppers downtown, that would be awesome, but the last thing the city needs is a ton of empty storefronts on a new Main Street.

I’m guessing the city will require strict timelines and tenant agreements before giving the okay to Glazer to develop more parcels. He’s expected to submit a more detailed proposal in the coming weeks.

Links of the Day:


– Frontier is among the “Worst Places to Work.”

– Wilmot’s Seneca County casino looks like Park Point on steroids.

IKEA is raising worker wages. I wonder how many other big retailers will follow.

– The ethical negligence of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children.

– What does the Supreme Court ruling against Aereo mean for us? Scott Fybush and I break it down.

– It’s nice to know our state lawmakers are hard at work outlawing “tiger selfies.”

10 Responses to Medley at Midtown

  1. June 26, 2014 at 10:29 am BlueSky500 responds:

    Nobody from the suburbs is going to pay for parking and gas to go downtown to do any kind of shopping. So that leaves mostly city residents to utilize Medley at Midtown. I see a failed project.

    If they want retail downtown, why didn’t they leave Midtown Plaza alone and renovate the building? I remember going there as a child, it was beautiful. There was no need to tear it down.

  2. June 26, 2014 at 12:24 pm Matt McDermott responds:

    Additional retail may not create more shoppers but having convenient options for downtown residents and workers means driving to the ‘burbs isn’t the automatic answer to any shopping need. Also, I have to think that having some retail options that aren’t otherwise available in Greece, Henrietta or Victor (like an Urban Outfitters) creates some market opportunities that weren’t otherwise there.

  3. June 26, 2014 at 1:43 pm Lori Meath responds:

    Makes me uneasy. It sounds wonderful, and I see great things happening downtown. BUT those stores are not going to be supported by the lower income demographic of the Inner loop. How long will they/can they stay?? Suburbanites often have a great fear of downtown, and it’s based on some pretty distressing realities. It would take many years to change that mindset. Stay tuned.

  4. June 26, 2014 at 2:27 pm dew4794 responds:

    Also accomplices to downtown deaths, THE BANKS. How? The Credit Card and the drive-thru bank. Credit cards because a customer didn’t need to get dressed up, fight the weather, find parking, pay the meter, stand in line to get cash. Buy now and pay later and by-pass all of the above. Drive-thru banking because of much of the same and the downtown stores were ditched to hit the Mall with one park shopping. Where are the Banks? Some downtown but mostly in the burbs. And I suspect that a huge number of downtown residents do banking at a drive-thu.
    This trend is not going away. To “save our downtown” Rochester has to fight against the currents.

  5. The Mayor is crazy. Let Larry or however else do their own thing.

  6. OK, I will state the obvious. What killed the Medley ? That’s right, the “safety” issue. Being near the city and on the bus route created a sense of unruly youths roaming in groups. So now someone thinks putting a group of shops in the CENTER of the city will not be the place to go for the roaming youths or the homeless street beggers. Yes, this is a great idea. I am sure everyone will want to go there. Why wouldn’t people flock to an area to go shopping or take in a movie where there is no free or close parking and you get to gamble with your safety.

  7. There’s plenty of other areas in downtown where a performing arts center could be located in and near downtown that aren’t in midtown… you could have a nice performing arts center on the water at front street, one on the huge vacant parking lot near kodak or perhaps one on the west side of town near the cascade district…

    But regardless RBTL is likely at risk of loosing big Broadway productions to the Kodak center for Performing Arts near Eastman Business Park.

  8. A lot of negative, when people should be supporting it. Bringing retailers that are not offered in the suburbs will draw, especially an REI, Urban Outfitters, CB2, Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack, Dave & Busters, Apple, Barneys, Steve Madden, Modell’s and Microsoft Store. If they were smart, they would also chase factory stores like Patagonia, Nike Town, Fendi, Parada, Burberry and so on. The right mix of high end with medium end retailers will draw. They key to the mix is drawing in younger people, while giving the 40+ crowd something that the burbs doesn’t offer.

    Restaurants, Bars and Nightlife needs to also be mixed in and around it. Mix in quick, with local, with chains, with higher end and Drive foot traffic again. Allow for the food trucks to park up and down Main St, but charge them a concession fee based off location just like in major cities.

    Naysayers, stay in the burbs….. The rest of us want a vibrant multicultural city full of life for everyone. The more vibrant, the more cultures, the better.

  9. July 1, 2014 at 10:50 am Kevin Yost responds:

    Side-by-side reincarnations of the National Soccer Hall of Fame by U.S. Soccer and the Int’l Women’s Sports Hall of Fame by the Women’s Sports Foundation could go either on one of the Midtown parcels, the site of the Medley Center, or in Sibley or the site of Beebee Station or the current D&C building and the same places, except for Gannett and Sibley, could also hold a new Broadway Theater. All of those same sites, except for Medley, could also hold a reincarnated Inventors Hall of Fame, which closed two years ago in Akron, Ohio. If the two sports halls of fame go to either Midtown or Medley, then maybe, without any tax dollars used, there could also be a new Sahlen’s soccer/lacrosse stadium with centralized parking and maybe MLS Rhinos and the current Sahlen’s Stadium could be renovated into a softball stadium for a new local franchise of the National Pro Fastpitch women’s pro softball league. Otherwise, if either the Batavia Muckdogs or Webster Yankees fold, then either of their stadiums could be used for a new local NPF team.

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