ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Nearly 50 years to the day after Midtown Plaza first opened in downtown Rochester, officials today gathered to celebrate the rebirth of Midtown with a groundbreaking for a company attracted to the community by its people.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, Mayor Thomas Richards and County Executive Maggie Brooks today joined Pike Company Chairman and CEO Tom Judson, Rochester Gas & Electric President Mark Lynch, regional U.S. Housing and Urban Development director Joan Spilman, and Windstream Corp. President and CEO Jeff Gardner in officially celebrating the start of construction on Windstream’s new facility at the former Seneca Building. Pike is investing $19 million to redevelop the building for Windstream and other prospective companies.
The project is the first private development to take hold on the Midtown Rising site after Windstream acquired PAETEC Holding Corp. last year. After a detailed analysis of Windstream’s facility needs and a robust outreach effort by Senator Schumer, Lt. Gov. Duffy, Mayor Richards, U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter and others, Windstream announced that it would locate an office on site.
“These 335 good-paying Windstream jobs are going to be the anchor of Rochester’s downtown development. With Windstream paving the way, we’re set to turn the defunct Midtown site from a blight that chased away new development to the cornerstone of downtown’s redevelopment,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer. “I’m thrilled to be a part of today’s groundbreaking, and will continue to do anything and everything I can to grow the Midtown area and help bring downtown back to its glory days.”
“Today we celebrate taking the next step at Midtown and a new partnership with Windstream," said Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy. "Windstream's investment in our community clearly demonstrates the strength of Rochester as a premier place for business to grow and flourish. Furthermore, this is a shining example of what can be achieved when State and local leaders come together behind a unified vision for the economic future of the Greater Rochester Region."
“It took an enormous amount of work by so many people to get to this point and there is a lot of work left to do,” said Mayor Richards. “We are basically writing a new chapter in Rochester's history. I speak for every person who has worked on this project when I say that we are honored to have been given a role in the historic revitalization of downtown and we are all looking at this as the rebirth of Midtown.”
Jeff Gardner, Windstream president and CEO, said he was delighted the company would be part of revitalizing the city’s core. He said he looked forward to other businesses joining Windstream in the Midtown Rising site.
“Rochester is a wonderful city with a bright future,” Gardner said. “Windstream chose to retain a significant presence here because it is home to a large number of tremendously talented information technology and telecommunications professionals. I expect those professionals to help us grow our business for years to come and look forward to Windstream having a long and productive role as a good corporate citizen of Rochester and the greater Rochester area.”
Once Pike’s reconstruction of the 109,000-square-foot former Seneca Building is complete, Windstream will house up to 335 employees on two of the building’s three floors, comprising 66,667 square feet. Windstream also will maintain an office in Perinton.
The third floor of the Seneca Building, comprising 37,000 square feet, is still available for lease, as are several other parcels on the site, including an adjacent site that may be developed by Pike in the future.
Pike Chairman and CEO Tom Judson said he hopes other companies will follow Windstream’s lead and consider the Midtown Rising site.
“As one of the firms involved in the construction of Midtown Plaza itself 50 years ago, the Pike Company understands how important downtown development is to the health of our city and our entire community,” Judson said. “We were proud to be part of Midtown then, are even more proud now, and look forward to working with multiple companies as they expand and grow.”
New York State provided $55 million for the Midtown Rising project, $44 million of which was used for the asbestos remediation and demolition of six buildings covering more than eight acres that make up the Midtown site. Construction work will be under way this year in the underground service tunnel and 1,800-vehicle underground garage. Above ground, a new street grid, sidewalks and lighting are planned as is the preparation of the remaining development parcels and the public space with the remaining $11 million grant from New York State.
In September, with support from Senator Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the City secured a more than $2 million grant from the federal Economic Development Administration which is in addition to $1.36 million in federal funding that Senator Schumer secured in 2010 to build new infrastructure and access roads to make the nearly nine-acre Midtown site shovel-ready for new private development. In 2009, Congresswoman Slaughter and Senator Schumer also secured $950,000 for planning and development of the site and Senator Gillibrand secured $340,000 for demolition and remediation.
"This is the beginning of one more positive chapter for downtown Rochester and proof that when a community pulls together, we can bring the best companies right here,” said Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-28). “Knowing what we could accomplish together, I understood how important it was to make Midtown a wonderful place to work which is why I secured $950,000 in 2009 for the infrastructure needed to make this a world-class complex. To Windstream, I say welcome! We’re happy to have you and look forward to doing great things together. To all the other employers considering downtown Rochester and Midtown, I say come on over. This is a wonderful community with dedicated people who are ready to get to work."
The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development provided $5.9 million in federal Community Development Block Grant funding to help finance the Seneca Building redevelopment.
“Redevelopment of our urban centers is at the heart of what HUD is all about,” Spilman said. “Cities across Upstate New York, including Rochester, have numerous revitalization projects under way, and HUD is here to assist in any way we can.”
County Executive Maggie Brooks said the County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency (COMIDA) assisted the Midtown Rising project with a Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement and exemptions of sales tax and mortgage recording fees.
"Monroe County is a proud partner in this collaborative economic development effort and is pleased to welcome Windstream to Downtown Rochester," said County Executive Brooks. "The tremendous investment in the Midtown Rising project will strengthen our local economy and serve as a catalyst for the continued revitalization of our Center City."
Rochester Gas & Electric helped close the financial gap with a commitment to provide up to $800,000 for electric service infrastructure at the Midtown site.
“We are pleased to have worked with our economic development partners and elected officials to provide Windstream with the opportunity to develop a major presence in downtown Rochester and to retain jobs in Monroe County. The results of this collaborative effort speak for themselves,” said Mark S. Lynch, president of NYSEG and RG&E. “The assistance we are providing for this project is further evidence of our commitment to help our business customers retain and create jobs in communities across the NYSEG and RG&E service areas.”
The total investment in the Midtown Rising Project, including acquisition, relocation, demolition, infrastructure, rehabilitation of the garage, and the redevelopment of the Seneca Building, is more than $122 million. The new facility is expected to be completed by late summer 2013.
For more information contact:
Megan Connor Murphy
City of Rochester