Filling In: Tops Plaza

Filling In: Tops Plaza

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 February 27, 2015 and can be found here.

Tops Plaza on Winton Rd south of Blossom [PHOTO: Google Streetview]

     By       Matthew Denker

Some of you may know that there is a shiny, new-ish, giant Wegmans in Rochester. It's over at East and Winton. Savvier readers may know about another grocery store nary a block away (but clearly on the wrong side of the tracks!). That's right, there's also a Tops. In addition, it has come to my attention that there are plans for an Aldi across the street on the site containing the old Roly-door building and Jim's. For a city with few urban grocery stores, there's food for everyone over here...

Tops Plaza Satellite Image [PHOTO: Google Maps]

   Not surprisingly, Tops is the odd man out in this menage-a-epicerie (being neither as cheap as Aldi or as nice as Wegmans). With that in mind, let's bulldoze it and rethink (Fill In) the entire area!

Tops Plaza Proposed Reconstruction

Boom! Get a load of that. What have we got cooking here?

1.) New roads (un-labeled - black lines) - We've turned the former super block site into a collection of smaller block sizes that increase walkability and maintain street parking for customers of the new businesses.

2.) Structured Parking (teal) - This garage would replace the surface lot for Harris and provide employee and resident parking for the new buildings to be constructed on the Tops Plaza site. If a deal could be worked out, it would also become the employee parking for Wegmans, allowing customer parking to be put under the store and liner buildings to be constructed in the surface lot across University. That's outside the scope of this plan, though. A portion of the top level of the 4 story parking deck would be the park, offering connections to the north side of the tracks.

Seattle Art Museum Train Overpass [PHOTO: Google Streetview]

3.) New Park Space (green). The park will extend from next to the Harris office building, up and over the parking garage, over the tracks, and then back down to street level on the other side of the tracks. This will bring a much needed lighter and friendlier method for crossing the tracks than the current Winton Rd underpass offers. It also offers some much needed green space to new residents and a place to eat and socialize for local workers, residents, and shoppers.

AND time for new buildings (orange).

4.) 3 stories - First floor retail, second two floors offices.

5.) 4 stories - First floor retail, top 3 floors apartments.

6.) Double height single story - All retail.

Example Buildings [PHOTO: Google Streetview]

   7.) 6 stories - First floor retail facing the two street extensions, but not artisan works. Resident entrance facing artisan works for floors 3, 4, 5, and 6. Hotel entrance facing Winton for floor 2.

8.) 5 stories - Residential.

Example Buildings [PHOTO: Google Streetview]

9.) 4 stories - First floor retail, top 3 floors apartments.

Based on a really rough estimate, this comes out to approximately:

  • 60,000 sqft of retail (approximately half the square footage of an average Target)
  • 20,000 sqft of office space (barely 1 floor in the Xerox tower)
  • 20,000 sqft of hotel (this is a 60 room hotel, at average hotel room sizes, or 2/5ths the size of the Strathallan)
  • 200,000 sqft of apartments (at an average size of 1,000 sqft, this is 200 apartments, or about the same as what will be in Midtown Tower when complete)

So if Tops were to come down, what would you put in this space? I went looking, and historically, there was nothing here except lawn/parking for the industrial buildings, so unlike many sites in Rochester, there is not much precedent for the site beyond the low intensity retail/parking morass that is here now.

Finally, thanks go out to Scott W. for inspiring me to put this column together.

Chris Gemignani

Chris Gemignani

Rochester, NY, USA