01.26.09

SCHUMER & BROOKS ANNOUNCE BREAKTHROUGH REN SQUARE AGREEMENT TO MOVE FORWARD WITH CONSTRUCTION OF BUS TERMINAL AND MONROE COMMUNITY COLLEGE - AGREEMENT SATISFIES SCHUMER DEADLINE

Schumer and Brooks Sign Memorandum of Understanding to Continue Moving Forward with Two Critical Elements of the ProjectAgreement Says Performing Arts Center Could Be Added Later If Funds Are Secured

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks today announced a joint agreement for Renaissance Square project planners to move forward with the final design and construction of the Monroe Community College and Bus Terminal components of the threepart project. Even though $175 million has been secured for the project, there is still a $55 million funding shortfall for the theatre component. Schumer and Brooks signed a Memorandum of Understanding today that says the performing arts center portion of the project could be added later to the plans if funds are secured, and that the Monroe Community College and Bus Terminal components of the project will begin their final move toward construction without further delay once environmental approvals are received from the Federal Transit Administration.

 

"Today we have a framework for moving forward and building the Renaissance Square project. This agreement allows us to break ground on a nearly shovelready project that will revitalize downtown Rochester, create jobs and give a shot in the arm to the local economy," Schumer said.

 

Nearly a year ago, Schumer issued a set of conditions to project planners that were necessary for his further support for the longdelayed project. These conditions included the county making a decision on whether to move forward with the project by January 31st of 2009; the need to develop a realistic scope of the project to fit within the budget that was secured; a decision on who will operate the facility; and the call for transparency in dealing with the public.

 

Schumer promised to reprogram the project's federal funding and use it for other Rochesterarea projects if his conditions were not met.  With today's agreement, Schumer considers his conditions satisfied and he will continue to work to ensure that the federal funding for the community college and bus terminal that has been pledged to the project is ultimately delivered.

 

The plans for Renaissance Square were first hatched over a decade ago when a new indoor bus station was proposed to give commuters an indoor facility to transfer and wait for transportation. In 2004, the County announced its plan to combine the transit hub with a satellite campus for Monroe Community College, with the addition of a performing arts center. The project has been estimated to cost $230 million, and at this point, $175 million has been committed to the bus center and the college, which is projected to breathe new life into downtown Rochester. As of today, there is a $55 million funding shortfall for the project, making it impossible to move forward with the theatre component of the Renaissance Square plans.

 

In an effort to kick start plans without any further delay, Schumer and Brooks agreed to operate under a budget of $175 million to build the Monroe Community College building and the bus terminal components for the Renaissance Square project. Schumer said that the planners can continue to raise funds and move forward with the third component of the project, but the agreement to design and build a Renaissance Square project within the current budget is necessary in order to  keep the project on schedule and secure the federal funding for the project.

 

The Federal Transit Administration is expected to grant a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the project in the next several weeks. This key hurdle will give project planners the ability to draw down on the federal funding that has been designated for this project.

 

Below is a full copy of today's agreement:

Memorandum of Understanding

 

This Memorandum of Understanding is made this 26th day of January, 2009 by and between County Executive Maggie Brooks and Senator Charles Schumer. 

 

WHEREAS, M&CLDC desires to oversee the design and construction of a mixed use development, which will integrate a Regional Transit Service, Inc. transit center with Monroe Community College and a performing arts center (PAC) in downtown Rochester and which will be known as "Renaissance Square." 

 

WHEREAS, Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority (RGRTA), Monroe County and Monroe Community College, three of the project partners of M&CLDC, have secured and/or identified sources for $175 million in federal, state and local funds for Renaissance Square (including certain federal funds that have expired as described below);

 

WHEREAS, based on estimates provided by the project construction advisers during the preliminary design phase of the project, M&CLDC has determined that $175 million would fully fund the transit center and community college;

 

WHEREAS, based on estimates provided by the project construction advisers during the preliminary design phase of the project, M&CLDC has determined that the total cost of the project including the PAC will be $230 million;

 

WHEREAS, Senator Schumer has assisted M&CLDC and RGRTA, the federal transit grantee, in securing $80 million in federal funds for Renaissance Square from various sources and in working with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to obtain the necessary approvals so that the project can move forward;

 

WHEREAS, certain federal funds available for the project expired on October 1, 2008 and all parties will work to secure replacement funds.

 

WHEREAS, M&CLDC has completed preliminary engineering and design of Renaissance Square and submitted the necessary documentation to FTA for the environmental review of the project under the National Environmental Policy Act and related laws and regulations;

 

WHEREAS, FTA has represented to the parties that it will issue its findings on or around January 31, 2009 which, if favorable to the project, would allow M&CLDC to proceed with final design and construction; provided, however, that the parties expressly acknowledge that final design cannot begin unless and until successful completion of the environmental review process;

 

NOW, THEREFORE, the parties agree as follows:

 

1.       Assuming M&CLDC obtains all required environmental approvals but is not able to secure the necessary funds to build the PAC at the time FTA issues its findings, then M&CLDC will nevertheless begin final design and construction on the transit center and community college portions of the project.

 

2.       The final design of the transit center and community college will be undertaken in a way that would allow the subsequent integration of the performing arts center if M&CLDC secures the necessary funds. 

 

3.       M&CLDC will continue to aggressively pursue funding to construct the PAC and will begin final design and construction of the PAC only once it identifies the necessary funds.

 

4.       M&CLDC intends to award contracts and commence final design of the transit center and community college in the spring of 2009 and complete design development and break ground and begin demolition in time to access available federal funds.  

 

5.       RGRTA is developing a joint development budget for the project and will negotiate and enter into a joint development agreement with the project partners benefiting from the federal funding obligating such project partners to pay RGRTA a fair share of revenue and a share of costs to operate the facility and to maintain the physical and functional relationship of the joint development to the transit center.

 

6.       RGRTA will submit the joint development budget and Joint Development Agreement to FTA for approval by June 30, 2009. 

 

7.       Senator Schumer will continue to work with M&CLDC and RGRTA, and assist them in receiving the necessary approvals from the FTA, obtaining funds to replace the federal funds that expired on October 1, 2008, and accessing the federal transportation funds that have been made and in the future are made available for the project.

 

 

 

________________________________________

      Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks

 

 

­______________________________________________

            U.S. Senator Charles Schumer

 



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