October 17, 2014
Albany

Governor Cuomo Announces First Tenants of College Town are Open for Business

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View a rendering of the project here

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the first tenants of College Town, the $100 million shopping, dining, business and residential district in the City of Rochester, are open for business. Lieutenant Governor Robert J. Duffy celebrated its dedication this afternoon in Rochester, along with government officials, Mt. Hope community members, and project partners.

“With today’s grand opening of the first anchor tenant, College Town is another step closer to becoming a vibrant neighborhood in downtown Rochester,” Governor Cuomo said. “This project is creating a wide variety of places to live, work, shop, and study within the local community, and I believe it will also draw visitors from throughout the region to see more of what Rochester has to offer. The Finger Lakes Regional Council was right to make this project a priority, and I am proud that the State was able to move it forward.”

Lieutenant Governor Robert J. Duffy said, “College Town will be an outstanding addition to the City and University of Rochester, both as an economic driver and cultural center. The project’s planning began during my first year as Mayor of Rochester, and Governor Cuomo’s support and investment was absolutely instrumental throughout its development. I applaud all of our federal, state and regional collaborators for making this a reality, and I look forward to the rich new economic opportunities this will bring to the Finger Lakes community.”

The 20,000 square-foot, two-level Barnes & Noble—which anchors College Town and is both a community and University bookstore—is the first tenant to open for business, with others filling in this fall. Several future College Town tenants, including Breathe yoga and juice bar, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Constantino’s Market, Insomnia Cookies, Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches, and the DelMonte Hotel Group took part in the dedication ceremony to preview the goods and services they will offer. Other confirmed tenants include Bean Cruises & Travel, The Beer Market, Bourbon, Canandaigua National Bank & Trust, The Creator’s Hands, Corner Bakery, Flaum Optical, GNC, Hairzoo, and Saxby’s Coffee, which will be connected to the Barnes & Noble.

College Town, which is located near the University of Rochester’s River Campus and the Medical Center, is a 2012 Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council (FLREDC) Priority Project. In December 2012, College Town was awarded $4 million through Governor Cuomo’s Regional Council Initiative.

In addition to 500,000 square feet of shopping and dining, College Town features the Mount Hope Lofts apartments, a five-story, 136-room Hilton Garden Inn hotel and conference center (to open in spring 2015), a 1,500-space parking garage, and 50,000 square feet of Class A office space, which several university offices will transition into in November.

Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs, University of Rochester President Joel Seligman and Wegmans Food Markets CEO Danny Wegman said, “This is a historic day for the City of Rochester and the University that was made possible by Governor Cuomo’s vision and the state’s support. College Town is the embodiment of what the Governor’s Regional Economic Development Council process is about – bringing local stakeholders together with public and private partners to revitalize a neighborhood, create jobs, and grow the economy. This project will strengthen the greater Rochester community and further the Finger Lakes’ reputation as an exceptional place to live, work and play.”

Developed by Fairmount Properties and Gilbane Development Company, College Town’s construction began in summer 2013 and has continued through the fall. College Town has brought more than 900 construction jobs to the city, and developers are continuing to recruit for more than 330 permanent service and retail positions. Additionally, $2.5 million in estimated annual sales tax will be generated from the retail operations of College Town, as well as $1.8 million in income taxes and $600,000 in annual hotel taxes.

College Town sits on 14 acres of University of Rochester-owned property, and it has been a dream for local community partners since 2008 to create a welcoming and cohesive University-neighborhood community. The project has involved years of planning and coordination among officials from the University, the City of Rochester, and local organizations including the Mount Hope Avenue Task Force, the Mt. Hope Business Association, the Southeast Area Coalition and Mt. Hope Cemetery. 

In addition to the state’s contribution through the Regional Economic Development Council initiative, significant local and federal support has made College Town possible, including a $20 million Housing and Urban Development Section 108 loan to the City of Rochester, $13.5 million in tax incentives from the County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency, and $800,000 in federal funding for the Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority to improve mass transit for College Town. 

Public infrastructure improvements totaling $17 million by the City of Rochester at the Mt. Hope and Elmwood intersection included landscaped medians, new sidewalks, broadened roadways, reduced curb cuts, new signals, signage, and traffic controls. The City of Rochester’s College Town Cycle Track project received a $1 million grant through the Transportation Enhancement Program, a federal reimbursement program administered by New York State Department of Transportation, to create a two-way bike path along Elmwood Avenue and link the Genesee River Trail to College Town. Constantino’s Market also received a low-interest loan managed by Action for a Better Community Inc. and supported with federal funds. The loan to the Cleveland-based family grocer is funded by a federal grant of nearly $750,000 to the Community Economic Development Healthy Food Financing Initiative.

For University community members and visitors, it is an easy walk or bike ride to College Town’s dining, shopping, entertainment and services. From River Campus, students and employees can also shuttle any day of the week right to the center of activity. The College Town website (http://www.collegetownrochester.com) provides more information on the types of entertainment and community activity planned for College Town, including live music, farmers’ markets, and book events for both children and adults.

Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle said, “Today’s dedication was made possible because as a community we came together, unified by our belief in College Town as a truly transformational project for the University of Rochester, the Mt. Hope neighborhood and the community at-large. I applaud the University of Rochester, my colleagues on the Finger Lakes REDC, and all of our local partners who have worked so hard to make today possible.” 

Senator Joe Robach said, “This is an exciting day for the City of Rochester, the Mount Hope neighborhood and the University of Rochester. College Town will not only benefit University of Rochester students, faculty and staff, it will also have a positive impact on our local economy by way of 300 permanent jobs and a variety of retail and dining attractions for area residents. This project was truly a collaborative effort between the University of Rochester and all levels of government, and is something we can all be proud to be a part of.”

Assemblymember Harry Bronson said, “I applaud the University of Rochester under the leadership of President Seligman, as well as our federal, state and local partners for ensuring that College Town is now a reality. This ribbon cutting represents the university’s ongoing commitment to our community and our families. President Seligman’s vision of what this corner could represent is remarkable. And that vision was enhanced with the input of the neighbors and their understanding of the needs of their community. I believe that this project represents what works best in private-public investment to provide good jobs and to enhance the economic growth of the Rochester region.”

Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks said, “College Town is truly a testament to a new comprehensive, collaborative, and results-driven approach that has transformed economic development in our region. Gone are the days of individual stakeholders working in isolation to create jobs and grow our economy. Today, we are working side by side as public and private partners to unite behind transformational projects like College Town that will keep Monroe County on the fast-track to prosperity. I thank the University of Rochester, the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, and all partners involved for their help in moving this important project forward.”

City of Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said, “Our neighborhood groups, the University of Rochester, our business partners and the city have all worked collaboratively to turn a quiet corridor into a thriving economic center, and College Town represents a true Rochester success story. As a teen I worked at the Wegmans that used to be on that site. Now, I am happy that our federal leaders have made it possible for another grocery store to build on those roots. All over Rochester we see this, the city working with our dedicated partners to build a brighter future for all Rochesterians."

Today’s ceremony concluded with the dedication of Paprocki Plaza, located in front of the Barnes & Noble bookstore. The plaza is named to recognize Ron Paprocki for the central role he played in envisioning the project and coordinating the university's efforts as a catalyst for College Town.

About the Regional Economic Development Councils

The Regional Economic Development Council initiative is a key component of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s transformative approach to State investment and economic development. In 2011, Governor Cuomo established 10 Regional Councils to develop long-term strategic plans for economic growth for their regions. The Councils are public-private partnerships made up of local experts and stakeholders from business, academia, local government, and non-governmental organizations. The Regional Councils have redefined the way New York invests in jobs and economic growth by putting in place a community-based, bottom up approach and establishing a competitive process for State resources. After three rounds of the process, more than $2 billion has been awarded to job creation and community development projects consistent with each region’s strategic plans, supporting the creation or retention of more than 100,000 jobs. For more information on the Regional Councils, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov.

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