The new signs plead with MCC to “come back” to main street.
The new signs plead with MCC to “come back” to main street.
Well, I have attended the meeting held by the Mayor. It was a virtual who’s who of the community developers, as well as representation by the City Council, Ann Kress and MCC and various other politicians. There was a great deal of talk about the Canal, the moving of the bus traffic from Main Street to any far away place, etc. It kept coming back to the “key corner” of Main and Clinton. It was interesting how everyone seemed to be afraid to say anything controversial. I was asked to keep a low profile, and give others a chance to speak. I did that, but, nobody said anything of any value. It seemed as if everyone was content to start from scratch. I am NOT.
Let’s talk turkey here. All throughout the RenSquare fiasco, MCC was steadfast. They loved the Main Street location. There was very little push back from anyone regarding the MCC facility. Virtually all of the controversy was centered around the never funded PAC, and the bus terminal that changed every couple of years. There was never any talk about any qualms from MCC, other than the lack of a construction staging area that might have a negative impact on their build out. That was an easy one to fix. However, now, out of the blue, MCC is saying the Main Street Site is unsuitable because of a lack of space for possible expansion. That was a new one. At the meeting yesterday, Ann Kress, the new President of MCC, said they would seek a location that would be a good fit for the types of goods and services that the student, faculty, and administrators would need and want. Wow! This is great news!
I sent Ann a formal request to present my newest plan for Main and Clinton. A copy of that letter and the renderings for my new design are below. As you can see, I have removed any objection that they might have had. They can have all the room they need for future expansion, as well as a staging area during their construction. I am perplexed. If the Main and Clinton corner is so important, why isn’t the City and the public clamoring for MCC to go into their original site?? Their injection of 4500 people in the center of that block instantly creates the necessary foot traffic to support a retail and housing complex on the corner. It would also be way to recover SOMETHING of the 24 million dollars already spent on that site.
Ann has not replied to our request yet. She has said publicly that they won’t be ready to look at ideas for two months. This is what has me perplexed. If anyone out there has any idea why the Main Street location isn’t the best possible site, please let me know. Main and Clinton can be fixed quickly with MCC coming into their original site. The block would then be a nucleus for other housing and retail to grow outwardly. I urge everyone to help make this a reality. We can accomplish so much by simply getting MCC to come home to Main Street. I will keep everyone up to date.
Shortly after posting Neil’s last blog, we received a call from the Mayor’s office informing us that the Mayor has requested a formal meeting to once again review and discuss Neil’s most recent proposal for his property on Main and Clinton. A meeting has been scheduled and will take place shortly with Neil Bauman, Commissioner Carlos Carballada, head of Economic Development in Rochester, and the City Attorney, Tom Richards.
When asked about the scheduled meeting, Neil shared these comments:
“I’m delighted. My dealings with the previous Ren Square team and the County in particular, have led me to question whether our public officials can actually deliver when they say they will, but my doubts were put to ease after hearing from the Mayor’s office today. It seems they do business a bit different in the City, and I’m excited to work with the Mayor’s office, Tom Richards, and Commissioner Carballada on formalizing my proposal for my property at Main and Clinton. This is a huge step in the right direction and I want to personally thank the Mayor for acting so quickly.”
Neil was attending to some business this afternoon but he promised to update us further as soon as he could be available, so look for a blog post from him sometime this weekend or early next week.
Also, it seems that this website’s original mission has been completed, and just like the giant “Future Home of Renaissance Square” sign that was taken down this week, it appears that our “NoRenSquare” name is no longer fitting or needed. We plan on continuing to work with Neil on improving the future of Main and Clinton and Downtown Rochester, so it’s time to pick a new name that’s more reflective of this new agenda. In the near future, we’ll be updating this website, our twitter and facebook accounts, and our email newsletter with the new name. It will be a very refreshing and exciting experience to focus on progress and improving the City instead of fighting against the demise of the most important downtown block in Rochester, our very own “Times Square” as City Council recently put it.
Stay tuned, and as always, feel free to reach out to Neil and our team with any comments, questions, or suggestions, at email@example.com.
Hello to All.
I am sorry to have waited so long to give the eulogy for RenSquare. I am confident that we are finally at the end. From this point forward, there will be no more negative talk of the old RenSquare team. No more shots at our pal, Mike Power[less], etc. I will miss his empty blustering at those public meetings. From now on, it is only constructive initiatives, and a positive attitude.
That being said, the battle for the corner of Main and Clinton may not be over. Seen below, are my team’s latest architectural renderings for the land that was to be used for the PAC. It shows housing, retail, etc. Interestingly, it shows each and every component that Mayor Duffy is on record as saying he strongly supports. These renderings, along with a full presentation, were formally presented to the Rochester City Council at an executive session last month. The mayors office has been in possession of my plans since last September. Members of City Council have “instructed” me to start getting the necessary funds and begin acquiring properties to take my plan to the next stage. I have a first class team of professionals on my team such as Hanlon Architects, and DDS Engineering. We have spent considerable time, money, and effort over the course of the last year to get to this point. I began putting this team together, and working behind the scenes, only after hearing the mayor publicly ask for an “alternate plan B” over a year ago.
Now the mayor is saying he is going to call a meeting of private developers to get ideas for the corner. I cannot help feeling perplexed by this. Despite a well thought out plan, despite several meetings with the Mayors office, and a complete presentation to the entire City Council, there is still no mention of my plan. It is as if there is a reluctance to acknowledge me and my efforts. My fear, of course, is that the Mayor has his own ideas, and his own group of buddies, that he would like to see do this instead.
Fortunately, I have my property, and the complete cooperation of the other key property owners. Soon, the property owners will be part of a new coalition. We will band together to ensure that everyone gets a fair shake. Especially, Phyllis Cohen and some other older owners who desperately need to sell their properties. There may still be some drama at the corner. Eventually, my plan will have to be recognized by the Mayor, whether he wants to or not. I am in negotiations with all of the other owners as I write this update.
Lastly, I heard Maggie say on TV yesterday, “the MCC campus could not go into the old Main Street location for the same reasons that stopped the project”. What does that mean?? It fit last week, but not anymore?? Actually, if a private development went on the corner, it works as her staging area, and then we build! MCC would be where they originally wanted to be. My project gets the injection of 4500 people to make it work. Everybody wins, right? I wish I could re-engage MCC on their original site. This would be the only way to salvage any value from the completely wasted 24 million dollars. At least some value would be derived from the money spent on the MCC portion of the project.
So, it looks like the curtain does not quite yet close on the theater location of Main and Clinton. I will update this blog when I get some info on the meeting that the Mayor is calling for.
We found it amusing this morning that Mark Aesch of the RGRTA ‘announced’ his plan for compromise today which consisted of nothing but re-stating known facts, much like Maggie’s similar grandstanding yesterday. City Newspaper thinks they are preparing to pass the buck onto city council and the mayor for ‘ruining’ Ren Square:
It’s becoming more and more evident that the Main & Clinton board is unwilling to get past the politics and play nice for the benefit of the city. Take a look at the comments from residents, readers, concerned citizens on these recent articles:
Article from News10 NBC
From user: Frustrated in Roch NY
“Stay strong Mayor Duffy. Hopefully you will not back down in the next few days. The People of the City actually do NOT want this ‘thing’. Granted the $$ won’t come to Roch, but at least they might be put to a better use at a later time….or not. But whatever, we don’t need Ren Square!”
From user: Common Sense
“Is this woman deaf and dumb? The citizens of Rochester do not want to give up this amount of real estate taxes for her and her cronies. Maggie move some of the county property from your taxrolls for your fansty. ”
From user: Big John
“This has been a PPPP (PissPoorPlanedProject) from the begining. The Maggie could care less about the City & County taxpayers what. The only ones that are looking out for the taxpayer at this point is the Mayor and City Council. ”
From user: No_One77
“Brooks, Aesh, the whole bunch of them are nothing but arrogant crooks who actually believe they are modern day royalty! I can’t wait till these slimy dirtbags go away. They want to use our tax dollars to build a “legacy” for themselves… to Maggie Crooks, and Mark Aesch; If Ren. square is sooo important, use your own money, NOT OURS! ”
Good Morning All, a good morning indeed! I am sorry for the necessary delay in my update. I was asked to keep “radio silence” until after the much ballyhooed recent showdown last Wednesday night. Just prior to the meeting the Mayor called me, and assured me that I, as well as my alternative for the corner, would soon be given the respect that it deserves. I was also in constant touch with several members of the City Council. We all owe our gratitude to the City Council. Without my objection letter, and the action of the Council, I am convinced the Ren team would have bums rushed this horrible deal right up the City’s Kazoo. The good news is…Ding Dong the Witch is Dead, the Wicked Witch is Dead! As stated by the Mayor of Munchkin Land, thoroughly, exclusively, undeniably, DEAD. I am considering a memorial service in front of my fathers store, where I will have a bugler play Taps. Maybe Mike Powerless and his Main and Clinton Development Corp would like to attend. OK, I am done with the immature antics. I have waited a long time, and eaten a lot of crap, from people who don’t make a good pimple on my butt. So, please forgive me.
Now, to the good part. I am confident that the City, and a group of private developers will pick up the fumbled RenSquare ball, and take off. In the next few days, the question of my corner will be answered…even as Maggie STILL says she is moving forward. There are several people wondering what, exactly she will be moving forward with. At this point in time, she is only supplying some much needed comic relief.The only thing we need is the new MCC campus on our block. Let the RGRTA move north as far as Mark Aesh wants to go. The farther the better. He is one of the most arrogant executives I have ever met. I have a met a lot of arrogant losers, but Mark is in the top three. After the RGRTA’s drop dead date comes, and goes, we will get down to business. The behind the scenes work has already begun in earnest. The 24 million dollars is their new Sword of Damocles. More smoke and mirrors. MCC does not care who builds their campus. They much prefer my plan to the ridiculous PAC anyway. They like the housing aspect, and the convenience of having shops and services on the same block. The 24 million is a cinch to fix. Thanks to Obama, there is tons of money now available for shovel ready projects exactly like this one. He is being criticized now for not releasing the money fast enough. I have personally secured over 1 million dollars in grant money for my current project in the Village of Webster. The RenSquare team seems to think that today is like 11 years ago with regard to securing money. It will be a lot easier to secure 24 million for MCC, than securing 55 million for a PAC NOBODY wants! Very soon the landscape will settle. We will see this in our lifetime. I will update as much as I can.
Today is D-day for my vision of Main and Clinton. I have been invited to a City Council Executive session to discuss and present my alternative plan for the corner of Main and Clinton today. The Council’s decision will decide the fate of downtown. I will abide by their decision. The Council has ALL the power now. Poor Maggie and Mike Powerless can only watch and wait. They must be very nervous! After all, this is one group of people that is not “in the tank” for the County Manager, the RGRTA, and the RBTL. That means we have a great chance of winning our battle. This meeting is not open to the public. The reason I got for the closed session was real estate transactions and finances could be openly discussed. A lot of that information could be very personal.
The good thing here is the discussions can be a lot more open and frank without the media recording every word. I would prefer the media was there. I am completely transparent, and welcome the press always. There could be some very personal issues discussed at this session. Especially from some of the other property owners. I promise I will report via this blog, my interpretation of how the session played out. I still urge any and all of you who support my plan, to call your elected officials and tell them how you feel. Especially the Council members. We need a majority of 5 votes out of the 9 members. If there is a 6 or more vote majority, the decision is final. If it is only a 5 out of 9 vote, the Mayor can veto. For some strange reason I don’t trust the Mayor. So, in my opinion, we need at least 6 votes from the Council. I am very confident that the Council will exercise common sense, and give my plan a fair look. If they do, we should prevail.
The continued battle for fiscal sanity took another turn for the good guys last Thursday afternoon at City Hall. I had the extreme pleasure of watching the RGRTA’s team squirm and fidget, and exchange troubled looks at each other at their first presentation to the Rochester City Council. This was the first meeting, public or private, where the “fix” wasn’t already in! That is right folks, they got some questions that had everybody on the Ren team speechless. For me, it was, well, indescribably wonderful. When the RGRTA team spoke of their very tight timetables, and said the Council “has to” do this and that by certain dates, the Council’s reaction was fantastic! RGRTA seemed shocked when members of the Council told them that their timetable was not the Council’s problem. Finally the Ren team is in front of a group of people who are NOT in the tank for them. Adam McFadden told them they need to start asking the FTA [federal transport authority], for more time. They also told the RGRTA team that they will be hearing from me and other potential private developers, etc, in the same format of a special session. That means that no little lackeys for the Ren team will be yanking my microphone out of my hands after three minutes. Most important is they seem to be honest and forthright. No more false promises of meetings that never take place. No more secret agendas. I will be given the same opportunity as the RGRTA. In my opinion, it is over! If I am really allowed to present my complete plan to an unbiased City Council, and it seems that is the case, the PAC component is doomed. We will have a vibrant and successful downtown in my lifetime.
Unlike the Mayor, and the County Manager, this City Council seems to be fair and unbiased. They also seem to be genuinely interested in doing the best thing for the City and downtown. That is all I ever asked from anybody. Interestingly, the Council asked for exactly what I asked from the County Manager several months ago. The Council told the RGRTA team that they wanted a timetable of exactly when the PAC funds would be raised. If the funds were not raised in the agreed upon time, the properties would be returned to the City. They agreed to that at the meeting. I asked for, and was verbally given that same thing from the County Executive at a private meeting. As a matter of fact, when I suggested a 18 month timetable, Maggie herself instructed the county attorney, who was sitting at the table, to think of something like a right of first refusal, etc. When we asked for verification in writing of those action items that stemmed from a meeting that Maggie had asked for, I got the usual BS, and once again was being “played” by the RenSquare team. At my meeting with Maggie, I was willing to stand down from my efforts of blocking their eminent domain proceeding. They just basically tried to deceive me and keep me engaged while they did the bums rush with their public hearing. If that got through, without objection, we would be finished. Fortunately, their plan did not work. I made my legal objection on April 14. That legal objection set the stage for the Mayor’s legal objection. Thanks to my legal teams research, the Mayor suddenly broke from the evil empire, and supported my plan. He didn’t even thank me for providing him with his current course of action. I forgive him. Obviously, the Mayor has his own agendas. Heaven only knows what those agendas are. Although what he did to Maggie ultimately helped my cause, it does not change his behavior. I would certainly not want to be a partner with the Mayor. After all, how would I know if he was REALLY my partner. I think not.
My agenda has never changed. It never will. I should hopefully have a date for my special session with the City Council this upcoming week. After watching the City Council in action, I have renewed hope that we will soon have the best possible alternative for the people of Rochester coming to Main and Clinton. Talk soon.