ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- It’s been years and years in the making, but the prized vacant lot in downtown Rochester known as Parcel 5 finally has a plan in place for development.
City leaders announced the lot will become the site of the new Golisano Center for the Performing Arts with additional space reserved for retail and residential development. The new theatre will be named for Rochester native and Paychex founder Tom Golisano after he pledged to donate $25 million to the project.
"I think what's great about what happened is how the city, Bob Morgan and Arnie Rothschild and I guess myself came together to put this project in place, so I think it turned out even though it got off to a shaky start, it turned out to be a cooperative effort and it looks like it is win-win for the community and the general public," Golisano said in an exclusive phone interview. "There's no question Rochester and upstate New York mean a lot to me."
After years of speculation on what the determination of the development would be – mixed use residential and commercial space, a casino, a green space for community events and other options – the city selected the performing arts center.
The project will be a joint venture between Rochester Theatre Broadway League and Morgan Communities.
Mayor Lovely Warren made the announcement with other local leaders and says this will create many jobs in Rochester as well as invigorate the downtown area.
“This much anticipated selection for Parcel 5 is a victory for our city in every way and I am grateful to Bob Morgan, RBTL and Tom Golisano for their investment in Rochester and its people,” said Mayor Lovely Warren. “Today we will begin a journey that will bring a combined 776 construction and permanent jobs to those who need them most, all while reinvigorating our city center with a hub of activity, entertainment, housing, commerce, shops and restaurants."
The proposed project will include an estimated 3,000-seat theatre, as proposed by the RBTL and approximately 150 rental units with some affordable housing units as mark of the mix with market rate apartments. Officials say the residential tower will house retail shops and restaurants at street level.
“RBTL has been working for 20 years to make today a reality and we are grateful to Mayor Lovely Warren for her leadership and to Tom Golisano for his philanthropy to finally make this possible,” said Arnie Rothschild, RBTL CEO and Board Chairman. “This project will put the arts front and center in our city all while delivering enhanced economic impacts and jobs.”
City leaders say they envision more than 600 full time construction jobs are for the estimated $130 million project with approximately 166 permanent full-time jobs upon completion of construction. Project leaders say they have agreed to adopt a "Rochester first" hiring policy in an effort to hire local workers.
RBTL leaders say the Golisano Center for the Performing Arts will book a minimum of 180 "use nights" in a given year. They say the larger theatre, and increased amount of events can produce an economic impact of $55.5 million.
"One day I just picked up the phone and called Arnie and said 'Arnie, I want to have lunch with you and hear more about this performing arts center,'" Golisano said. "And that's how it got started and then after listening to Arnie for a while I became more and more interested."
No word from RBTL officials on what this potentially means for the Auditorium Theatre once the new performing arts center is functional.
City officials say they are confident the project will have the neccesary funding for the project and once that funding is finalized, the city will proceed with the sale of Parcel 5 to Morgan Communities and RBTL so they can begin construction.
Rochester Chamber President and CEO Bob Duffy released a statement saying in part, “Today’s great announcement of the housing, retail, and performing arts center is the cherry on top to developing the Midtown parcel."