More changes to come: City leaders discuss the growing city center

December 05, 2018 07:39 PM

Since 2000, the downtown population has more than doubled in size.

That's the news coming out of a special luncheon Wednesday afternoon that brought community leaders together to talk about the future. 

Advertisement – Content Continues Below

In 18 years, the population has grown from 3,200 to now 7,250.

"We have another 3,000 in the 23 projects that are in the pipeline now that we expect," said Heidi Zimmer-Meyer, president of the Downtown Development Corporation.

That's 23 more housing projects like Charlotte Square off of East Avenue. The second phase includes townhouses. 

Zimmer-Myer has lived through the decline of Rochester's downtown, so to say she's excited is an understatement. 

"Frankly, we're dealing with problems of growth now...which is a great problem to have, but they're different than problems of decline," says Zimmer-Myer.

She says its a worldwide trend. People are returning to their roots. Years ago people lived, worked and shopped in a central area.

"That is now beginning to attract technology companies, innovation enterprises. We've got a lot of incubators downtown that are growing and accelerating business. It has become clear in the economic development world that if a community doesn't have a strong and vibrant center city, you can't attract or retain talent," adds Zimmer-Myer. 

Now, she says she's waiting for the other pieces to fall into place like entertainment, retail and even more restaurants.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren says that's coming, and not just to downtown.

"We have a number of different housing projects that are coming online," said Mayor Lovely Warren. "We have businesses that are contacting us, meeting with our business development team, so we're excited about where we're going. We just expect 2019 to be a year of explosion for the entire City of Rochester," she said.

In the midst of all the good news there is a concern about all the new housing: the cost.

One-bedroom apartments in some of the new developments start at $1,400 a month.

Zimmer-Meyer says right now, 25 percent of the new housing downtown is affordable, starting much lower than $1,400.

That's also the case, she said, with some of the 23 new projects that will soon be completed.


Lynette Adams

Copyright 2018 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

Relay Media Amp

We no longer have Facebook comments on this site. Please visit our Facebook Page to join the conversation.