City picks Sandy Parker to move Parcel 5 project forward

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Former Rochester Chamber of Commerce president Sandy Parker has been chosen to lead the team creating the Midtown Parcel 5 development. (Photo: City of Rochester)

Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - Former Rochester Chamber of Commerce president Sandy Parker has been chosen to lead the team creating the Midtown Parcel 5 development.

The decision was announced Tuesday by Mayor Lovely Warren.

In April 2017, Warren announced a plan had been chosen to build an entertainment complex, performance venue and mixed-use development on a parcel of land on the former Inner Loop in downtown Rochester. The Golisano Center for the Performing Arts and Tower will be built in the space on East Main Street and will feature housing, retail shops, restaurants and additional parking.

The $130 million project is a co-venture between Morgan Communities and the Rochester Broadway Theatre League (RBTL). The performing arts center itself is estimated to cost $85 million; $25 million of that funding has been pledged by Paychex founder Tom Golisano. In January, Golisano said his pledge would not last forever.

Mayor Warren said Tuesday that the project has secured $90 million of the $130 million need for the project.

“Sandy knows how to get things done, and she also shares my vision for a thriving, alive and exciting downtown as an anchor to move our city forward and create jobs,” Warren said in a statement.

Parker will be in charge of engaging the public, funders, the arts community and important community stakeholders. It is unclear if she will be working with Naomi Silver, David Flaum, Elaine DelMonte, and Tom Bonadio, who were announced as co-chairs of the Capital Campaign Committee for the Golisano Performing Arts Center last July.

"I thought we needed something beyond just a theater. Having a movie theater here, having space for festivals and things here, it’s a perfect location for that," Parker said. "We've got to get community groups and organizations to see the mayor's vision to really believe that is going to happen. Let's get together and pull it forward, so that we can start construction."

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A preliminary design for the complex includes a green roof with outdoor performance space, an IMAX movie theater, and other sidewalk and street entertainment surrounding the facility. The movie theater concept is aimed at bringing people to the venue on non-performance days.

Both the city and RBTL are counting on the economic impact of a new theater to bring in the possibility of more shows and additional ticket sales from a larger theatre. They are estimating the venue would book a minimum of 180 “use nights” in a given year for an overall economic impact of $55.5 million. That figure is based on an estimated 360,000 people being brought downtown annually with a projected $18.5 million in ticket sales.

In addition, Warren is asking City Council to pass legislation to hire the consulting firm DLR Group - Westlake Reed Leskosky, who is partnered with AMS Planning and Research, to look into the project’s long-term impacts, evaluate questions and recommend how to further incorporate community interests into the venue's design. The cost and duration of the consulting firm has not yet been released by city officials.

A 'Rochester First' hiring policy is planned for the permanent jobs, meaning people who live in Rochester would be given first preference. In addition, any businesses who become tenants will be subject to the Rochester First hiring policy as well.

The greenspace between Parcel 5 and Elm Street will remain in place. Developers said they are working on a plan to incorporate more green building design elements into the project.

RBTL said it continues to explore future uses for the Auditorium Theater, but has not elaborated.