In a desire to catalyze social and economic growth near the Eastman School, UR has purchased a piece of land on East Main Street. Courtesy of Drue Sokol, Photo Editor.

According to a deal solidified on March 30, the University’s recent bid for land at 420 East Main St., across from the Eastman School of Music, has been approved ­— encouraging news for the University community, which will expand its presence into the new space.

The City of Rochester’s Cultural Center Commission approved the University’s bid, which offered $640,000 for the location. The contract is still awaiting confirmation from the Rochester City Council and Monroe County Legislatures, which must approve it to render the transaction complete.

The deal is being heralded as an important development in the University’s plan to spur social and economic growth near the Eastman School.

“[UR] is committed to working with the City of Rochester, the Cultural Center Commission and the neighbors to enhance the area around our Eastman School of Music, the Eastman Theatre and many other Rochester cultural attractions,” UR  president Joel Seligman remarked. “Our goal is to make this property a catalyst for further development in a way that benefits the Eastman School of Music and the neighborhood.”

Pending approval by the City Council and County Legislatures, the University is required to pay property taxes based on the assessed value of the lot, which would operate as a parking space until the development is underway. The University has five years to begin the renovation process.

Once a development company is selected and office, retail and related spacing is decided, the Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILOT) contract will be arranged with the city, so that all or a portion of the project will still be properly taxed.

The parking lot in question is known as the former Rascal Café location (“Block F”) and is the last undeveloped property in possession by the Cultural Center Commission. The Commission was organized by New York State about 30 years ago and has been jointly funded by the County of Monroe and the City of Rochester. Its objective was to implement the Cultural District Plan and encourage social and economic growth near the Eastman School and Grove Place neighborhoods.

In years prior, the Commission has successfully overseen the expansion of businesses and communities near the Eastman Living Center, the Symphony Terrace, the Sagamore on East, the Metro YMCA, the East End Parking Garage, the Miller Center and the completion of Grove Place residences.

Administrative officials noted that they are eagerly anticipating the legislative boards’ approval and declared this deal vital to the progress of downtown Rochester.

“This news is further evidence that downtown Rochester is on its way back,” Mayor-elect Thomas Richards commented. “I wish to thank the members of the Cultural Center Comission, the University of Rochester and Monroe County for their patience and diligence in making this long-awaited deal a reality.”

Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks thanked the City of Rochester, the University and the Cultural Center Commission for their continued belief in community revitalization.

“This significant investment in the future of downtown Rochester stands as yet another example of the great things that happen when local leaders work together for the good of [the] community,” Brooks noted in summary of the proceedings.

Titus is a member of
the class of 2011.

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