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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ghosts of RenSquare

It appears that some of the buildings along Main Street that were due for demolition when the RenSquare plan still existed are now being considered, along with 'GASP' the possibility of staying in the Sibley Building - where they have managed to survive the horrible working conditions for years - albeit in a newly remodeled space on the lower floors of the former department store.

Following is an article from March 15, 2011's D&C:

MCC looking at three options for downtown campus

With at least three sites still under consideration, the Monroe Community College board of trustees met Monday behind closed doors to review the possible locations for a new downtown campus.

"The goal is to have something before the end of the school year," said MCC President Anne Kress after the executive session. She would not discuss possible sites but said the "most important driver" is staying within the $72 million budgeted for the new campus.

Monroe Deputy County Executive Dan DeLaus, who is involved in the search, said prior to the meeting that three sites were being evaluated.

"We have people looking at these buildings and seeing what it would cost to convert them" to a downtown campus, said DeLaus, who expected the review to be completed in about six weeks.

One of the sites is the Sibley Building, which is where MCC currently leases two floors for its Damon City Campus.

A cluster of county-owned buildings near the northeast corner of East Main and St. Paul streets makes up the second site, said DeLaus.

These vacant structures include the Gateway, Edwards and Atrium buildings — totaling about 435,000 square feet.

DeLaus said that a third building, which he declined to identify, also was in the running. That building, he noted, is not owned by the county and is currently being used.

Gilbert Winn of WinnCompanies, based in Boston, has been interested in buying the Sibley Building. Winn said in an e-mail last month that he was "awaiting the MCC and county" to make a decision on the downtown campus and that he would be able to meet concerns that Kress has publicly expressed about staying in the Sibley Building.

The county, he said, could own, rather than lease, part of the building because of his firm's ability "to condominium-ize the structure."

He also said that MCC could occupy the lower levels of the building, rather than continue on upper-level floors.

During the public part of Monday's meeting, the trustees approved Michael McDonough to be MCC's provost — a new position. McDonough, who has served as MCC's dean of liberal arts since 2007, will also hold the position of vice president for academic services.

You can link to it here : http://www.democratandchronicle.com/article/20110315/NEWS01/103150323/MCC-looking-three-options-downtown-campus?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|News

...Funny how two of the sites were once considered insufficient for MCC's needs yet are now the two most likely sites for the future home of their downtown campus.

Much like how none of the Midtown Plaza complex was to be saved because the buildings there were not conducive to modern uses - according to the planners.

Some argued that a rigid steel framed building from the 1960's could be gutted and easily remade into modern office space while saving the cost of foundation work, steel erection and utilities design and installation.

Now, at least the bulk of the Seneca Building and the tower and half of the Atrium will be reused...

How ironic that after the death of RenSquare two of its three pieces could be built independent or each other and on the same sites as their RenSquare versions.

Return of the living dead mega-project!
Even more ironic is that MCC currently uses 200,000 square feet of space in the Sibley Building and really needs the additional space that reusing the Edwards/Atrium cluster of buildings would provide (435,000 sqft.) yet they were willing to spend their $72 million on a newly built campus at RenSquare that would have provided a whopping 10,000 more square feet (210,000).

That had better been some nice campus for the $7,200 per extra square foot they would have spent. Staying in Sibley and making minor changes would cost virtually nothing, therefore my dubious math figure above.

Since I will be moving to the Capitol District in a couple of weeks I guess I will have to keep an eye on the many projects proposed or being built downtown from afar.

My new home has enough urban-renewal and millennial-renewal issues of their own to keep me busy.

I look forward to visiting in the future and seeing a vibrant downtown Rochester with a renewed Midtown/Main and Clinton area!

Still, with the Bus Shed the only done deal in that area and the future of MCC, Paetec, Midtown Tower and the new downtown PAC still up in the air that area could end up in worse shape than it is now.

Time will tell...

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