Plans in the works for a College Town area, which would include restaurants, retail shops, a hotel, a grocery store, offiice space and more, have been stalled by competing interests. Drue Sokol, Photo Editor

UR is currently in the process of finalizing plans to start building a college town area — spanning over 16 acres of University property between Elmwood Avenue and Crittenden Boulevard — which aims to improve the quality of student life and create stronger bonds between the University and the City of Rochester.
Specific plans include building restaurants, retail shops, a hotel and conference center, office space, residential properties, a satellite transit center, a grocery store and other facilities.
UR students are excited about the possibility of easier access to the city.
“I think it will be awesome to have more [options] with a college town,” senior Morgan Nees Van Baalen said.
Senior Sarah Catheline agreed.
“The places the buses go to are far away from campus,” she said.
In addition to making it easier for students to access the city, a college town would also provide more activities for UR students.
“It would be nice to have more senior events, like a bar crawl,” Nees Van Ballen said.
Despite the student enthusiasm for the area, which would give UR a College Town atmosphere, the complex financial situation and the number of parties involved have caused delays.
“We will decide to move forward only after we are satisfied that the key elements are in place,” Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance and Chief Financial Officer Ronald Paprocki said. “We are not there yet, but I can say that there has been a great deal of progress.”
In an article on WHAM 13, UR President Joel Seligman agreed with Paprocki about not wanting to start this project prematurely.
“There are all sorts of reasons we hope to go forward with College Town,” Seligman said. “But we aren’t there yet… we won’t be there until all the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed.”
Even with the current delays, the City of Rochester and the University are thrilled about the expected advantages that a college town could bring to the area.
“We have found the [Rochester] business community to be very supportive of [the] College Town,” Paprocki said.
But some of the incoming businesses have made building plans tense.
According to the Mt. Hope Avenue Task Force, McDonald’s and Tim Hortons plan to build drive-throughs at their establishments, which goes against the college town’s objective to create a safe and pedestrian-friendly area.
The plans for the drive-throughs are especially worrisome to the task force because they would require residential properties to be purchased as well as  re-zoned. The drive-throughs would also contribute to more traffic to an area which is already highly trafficked.
McDonald’s and Tim Hortons also want to permit left turns out of their parking lots, which have been approved by City Hall, and are currently prohibited between Crittenden Boulevard and Elmwood Avenue. As a result of these discrepancies, the Mt. Hope Business Association and the Upper Mt. Hope Neighborhood Association are  suing the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals, City Council, Planning Commission and other parties in an effort to rescind the re-zoning of the Cook Street properties, and also to take back permission for the drive-through at Tim Hortons.
Despite these logistical difficulties, Paprocki insists the plans to build a college town area will not only benefit UR students, but also the faculty and members of the Rochester business community.
Berkowitz is a member of
the class of 2012.

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