Filling In: re:Main Social

This article was scraped from Rochester Subway. This is a blog about Rochester history and urbanism has not been published since 2017. The current owners are now publishing link spam which made me want to preserve this history.. The original article was published September 25, 2016 and can be found here.

Overhead view of Main Street from Clinton to St. Paul [PHOTO: RPL Local History Division]

     By       Matthew Denker

Today's Filling in is just a little bit different than usual. Instead of looking at one building or one site, we're going to take a look at a whole block. Namely, Main Street from Clinton to St. Paul. If you hadn't already heard, there is a huge event called     The re:Main Social

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taking place there on October 1st. I hope all of you are able to make it. In the lead up to it, let's discuss some short to long term visions for the area.

Since we're only talking about a single block, I think the best way to look at this would be to start on one side, work all the way down, and then work all the way back. Since this is my column, I'm going to arbitrarily start in front of the Metropolitan (Chase Tower) and then work my way around and back to the always formidable Bryant & Stratton Billboard.


Original Plan for Chase Tower/Clinton Square [PHOTO: Democrat and Chronicle 12/19/1967]

As many of you likely know, the Metropolitan is what Gallina is calling their     redevelopment of Chase Tower

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into a mixed use building with rentals, condos, etc. I will admit to not knowing what their plans are for the derelict plaza space underneath the building/facing Main St., but I think it's an excellent opportunity to liven up the space both in the short and long terms. In the short term, I think the space would make for excellent studio/gallery space for local artists. In the long run, it would be good to have Gallina add a building to the corner of Main and Clinton, restoring Rochester's premier intersection. The building would not need to be larger than 3 stories, and could be a mix of retail and residential or office space.

Alliance Building

Alliance Building [PHOTO: Rochester Municipal Archives]

DHD are     currently converting

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the Alliance building into residences, with a few small commercial spaces on the ground floor. I think they should keep up the good work, but consider some kind of Wall Therapy for the face of the building visible up Main St. from the east. Otherwise, not much to say.

National Clothing

National Clothing Building [PHOTO: Rochester Municipal Archives]

This building is already a     Hilton Garden Inn.

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You should stay there. It's very nice. Also, grab a meal at L.B. Drifters, as it's also fantastic. I don't think there's anything else to do here.


Hyatt Under Construction [PHOTO: Rochester City Hall Photo Lab]

Last building on this side of the street! They're     adding a Starbucks,

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so what else could downtown possibly need (Please consider going to Java's or Fuego or Press first)? Anyhow, I really wish the Hyatt didn't have that giant curb cut and driveway off Main St., but I don't think there's much that could be done with it now. Maybe if it could be moved to South Ave. in the distant future - that would be good. Not much else to say here. Time for the other side of the block!

Granite Building

Granite Building [PHOTO: Rochester Museum and Science Center]

Some of you probably know that the Granite Building is being     remade into apartments

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by CGI. This is good news, and I don't have anything else to say about it.

Atrium & Gateway Buildings

Gateway Building [PHOTO: Rochester City Hall Photo Lab]

CGI is remaking these buildings into offices to move out of the Granite Building. I think this is excellent reuse. I hope they are able to shoehorn a little retail in front of their offices, but this is likely a much longer term hope. Otherwise, nothing else to see here.

The First Four!

1910 View of Main Street [PHOTO: Rochester City Hall Photo Lab]

And so we come to the meat and potatoes of this venture. After the Gateway Building, there are four buildings whose best days have clearly come and gone. Unlike some people, I'd really not like any of these businesses to move. One person's beat up dollar store is another person's only access to a can of beans, so there's that. Even so, I'd like to see all four of these buildings restored to their former glory. It would be good for the upper floors of all of these buildings to be converted to residences (there's not much demand for additional office space downtown). This would go a long way to livening up the street without pushing out stores that existing shoppers are clearly already frequenting. All in all, a huge win, and hopefully doable with the     historic district

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that the current owners are trying to form here.

Neisner's Department Store

Neisner Brother's Department Store [PHOTO: Rochester Municipal Archives]

So this building, to me, is the big one. I am worried it might end up being made historic with the rest of the buildings in this row, because it really is not (it was, before the new facade was put on years ago, but it isn't anymore). I think this is the best place on this block to actually build something new and strengthen the mix of new and old buildings here. Something that is 5 or 6 stories with a few dozen apartments, no parking (GASP!), and retail on the ground floor to the street with tenant amenities behind.

The Final Three

Neisner Brother's Department Store [PHOTO: Rochester Municipal Archives]

And we come to the last three buildings. I'd like to see all three of these buildings restored as well. I'd love to see them, potentially, combined and filled with a real flagship enterprise on the order of TRATA. They can and should be the crown jewel of a downtown corner. It would be perfect to have a place that everyone coming to town says, "Yes, I just have to eat/drink/play there." It could be the historic yin to the new building I'd like Gallina to build's yang. It would make downtown great again (which is apparently now a thing).

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Despite any of the ideas I've put forward here, I'd love to hear what everyone else thinks should be on this block. Our input may not move the needle on current developer's plans, but it could really make a difference in the long term. I hope everyone here gets the chance to attend the re:Main Social event on the 1st, and maybe share the ideas that percolate up here. Let's do great things downtown.

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Chris Gemignani

Chris Gemignani

Rochester, NY, USA