Rochester City Council rejects loan to developer

November 15, 2017 12:07 AM

Rochester City Council Members voted 5-3 to reject a $1.5 million loan to a developer who is reportedly under federal investigation.

In September, the Buffalo News reported that federal investigators were looking into prominent Rochester developer Bob Morgan.

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According to the report, the FBI was looking into how Morgan's companies financed their purchases.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren submitted a bill to allow the City of Rochester to loan $1.5 to Morgan for his million to a developer who is reportedly under federal investigation.

The loan would have benefited a project by Morgan Management, LLC at 103 Court Street in Rochester. The project along the Genesee River would feature a five-story, mixed-use building. The legislation reported that the loan would cover construction and work on the residential portion of the project.

Several speakers urged Council Members to reject the loan before the vote.

"You're taking a huge risk with my money," said former Rochester Mayor candidate Alex White. 

"I think it's dangerous for us as a city to consider lending money where private investors won't do it," Peter Kline said. "I think that should say something about these projects."

The crowd applauded after City Council Members voted.

In September, a spokesman for the mayor's office downplayed the reported investigation when asked if the city felt comfortable dealing with Morgan on the Parcel 5 project. "I mean that's only one facet of a relationship here and I think comfortable is something based on how you interact with someone over time. And Morgan's company has been a fantastic community partner," James Smith told News10NBC.

City Council Vice President Dana Miller said the $1.5 million loan is a small piece of the project and says there is no reason to doubt Morgan.

"Everyone is innocent until proven guilty and being asked to provide information is not any indication of any guilt on his part or anyone else’s matter," Miller said.

But Miller's colleagues on the city council like Carolee Conklin felt differently. News10NBC asked her if the investigation played a role in Tuesday night's vote.

"I don't profess to speak for other people," Conklin said. "Was it a concern? I think it was a concern."

Mayor Warren could bring this proposal back in January for another vote. 


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