07.11.11

SCHUMER ANNOUNCES FULL COURT PRESS TO SECURE FEDERAL FUNDING FOR ROCHESTERS MIDTOWN RISING WITHOUT GRANT, PROJECT COULD BE DELAYED AND PRIVATE INVESTMENTS COULD DRY UP

Rochester Is Seeking A $2 Million Grant From The Economic Development Administration To Help Leverage Private Funding For Midtown Plazas Redevelopment With Federal Funding, Midtown Rising Ready to Revitalize Downtown Rochester, Create 2,000 Downtown Jobs, and Host Office, Residential, and Commercial Space Without It, City Would Have To Cut Funds From Other Development Projects To Try And Plug The Gap Schumer: This Project Will Pave The Way For Thousands Of New Jobs and Imple

 

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that he is instituting a fullcourt press to secure federal funding to aid in the redevelopment of Rochester's Midtown Plaza. In a personal letter to the head of the Economic Development Administration (EDA), Schumer argued that the over $2 million federal grant that the project is seeking will help leverage additional private funds to help finance the new world headquarters for Paetec Communication, as well as the redevelopment of the 17story Midtown Tower into a multitenant residential and commercial complex. Schumer believes this grant fits squarely within the mission of the EDA, which is to support publicprivate collaborative projects that promote job growth and business expansion. This federal investment will ensure that the project achieves its full vision in the planned timeframe without which City taxpayers would be forced to make up the funding difference, and private investments could disappear.  

"This EDA investment would be terrific news for the City of Rochester and would breathe new life into the heart of downtown Rochester," said Schumer.  "Investing in the Midtown Plaza project to leverage private investment in the form of a new headquarters for Paetec Communications and the revitalization of the Midtown Tower would provide a critical boost to economic development across the city, bringing jobs, business and economic opportunity to the entire region. These dollars are needed to fulfill the redevelopment plan called for in the ambitious final design plan released two weeks ago and I will fight to ensure that the EDA approves this grant."

The City of Rochester has applied for a $2.057 million Economic Development Administration grant to redevelop Midtown Plaza, a project that Schumer has pushed for years.  The application period to the EDA grant closed June 10th, and Schumer is now driving a full court press to ensure that Rochester receives this critical EDA grant. Without the proposed EDA investment, the Midtown Plaza project will not be able to achieve its full vision in the planned timeframe, which could lead to a collapse in private commitments. With the EDA investment, the Midtown project will be able to fund critical infrastructure components including new streets, pedestrian facilities, and utilities on the former Midtown site. 

Schumer notes several specific uses for the EDA Public Works and Economic Development Facilities Grant in the city of Rochester, if it is approved. The funding will help leverage additional private funds to finance the new $55 million world headquarters for Paetec Communication, as well as the redevelopment of the 17story Midtown Tower into a multitenant residential and commercial complex. Additional redevelopment of shovelready plots at the site will lead to tens of millions more in additional private investment.  Once completed, the site will accommodate about one million square feet of office, residential, and retail space and will create approximately 2,000 new jobs for downtown Rochester.

Schumer also points out that the Rochester Midtown Plaza Project fits squarely with the Economic Development Administration's mission. The EDA's Public Works and Economic Development Investments (" Public Works Investments ") intend to help communities revitalize, expand and upgrade their physical infrastructure to attract new industry, encourage business expansion, diversify local economies and generate or retain longterm private sector jobs and investments. The primary goal of these investments is the creation of new, or the retention of existing, longterm private sector job opportunities in communities experiencing economic distress. These investments also intend to assist communities in attracting private capital investment and higherskill, higherwage job opportunities and to promote the successful longterm economic recovery of a region.

During his announcement, Schumer was joined by Rochester Mayor Tom Richards, as he announced his push to secure federal funding to complete the planned redevelopment of the Midtown Plaza site on time. Schumer noted that the EDA grant would be a fundamental linchpin to reverse years of disinvestment in downtown Rochester and usher in new jobs and private capital investments. Two weeks ago, Mayor Richards released the Final Design Report for the nearly 9acre Midtown size which defines the site's final buildout including the street grid, development parcels and open space as well as sidewalks, parking, sewer, water and other required public improvements. The EDA grant will be used to fund many of the road and infrastructure components called for in the Final Design Report.  With local budgets already stretched thin, the EDA funding is critical to ensure this cost does not unnecessarily fall to the City of Rochester and delay future capital improvement projects.   

The revitalization of the old Midtown Plaza in the heart of downtown is a key component of Rochester's economic rebuilding strategy. Opened in 1962, Midtown Plaza was one of the first urban shopping malls in the nation. However, beginning in the late 1970s the Midtown area began declining as a retail destination point, and was affected further throughout the 1980s with the rise of the suburban mega malls.  The financial and physical deterioration of Midtown has had a negative impact on the downtown area, including the loss of hundreds of jobs, the loss of significant tax revenue, and serving as a serious hindrance to revitalization of the area. 

To reverse this trend, Senator Schumer has made the redevelopment of the Midtown Plaza site his top economic priority in the Greater Rochester region. Securing this EDA grant will complement Senator Schumer's previous efforts to support the project.  Specifically, last year Schumer secured a $1.4 million federal appropriation for the Midtown Plaza Revitalization Project that will be used to begin construction of the site's access roads and infrastructure.  If awarded, the EDA grant will help fund the completion of this road and infrastructure work to prepare the 9acre site for new privatesector development.   

A copy of Senator Schumer's letter to Assistant Secretary Fernandez appears below:

Dear Assistant Secretary Fernandez,

I am writing to follow up on my March 15, 2011 letter to Secretary Gary Locke in support of the City of Rochester's application for a $2,057,850 grant for the Midtown Rising Redevelopment Project through the Economic Development Administration's (EDA)  Public Works and Economic Development Facilities Grant Program.   I understand the grant application period recently closed on June 10 th and that the EDA expects to announce awards shortly.  Therefore at this time I want to reiterate my strong support for this grant which will leverage privatesector investment and help construct critical infrastructure elements including new streets, pedestrian facilities, and utilities on the former Midtown Plaza site in downtown Rochester.  Without the timely funding of these infrastructure elements, the Midtown Rising project would not be able to achieve its full vision in the planned timeframe which could jeopardize privatesector investment commitments. 

The financial and physical deterioration of the moribund Midtown Plaza over the past two decades precipitated a decline that encompassed the entire downtown Rochester region and discouraged new investment throughout the heart of the city.  Now the redevelopment of the nearly nine acre former Midtown Plaza site in the center of downtown is the key component of an overall economic rebuilding strategy to reshape the City of Rochester and reinvigorate its local economy.  

On its merits, the project is uniquely suited to leverage the EDA's grant to achieve the agency's goals of generating and retaining jobs by stimulating industrial and commercial growth and privatesector investment in economically distressed areas of the United States.  Specifically the Midtown Rising project includes the privatelyfunded construction of a $55 million new world headquarters for Paetec Communication and a $70 million redevelopment of the 17story Midtown Tower into a multitenant residential and commercial complex. Additional redevelopment of shovelready plots at the site will lead to tens of millions more in additional private investment.  Once completed, the site will accommodate about one million square feet of office, residential, and retail space and will create approximately 2,000 new jobs for downtown Rochester.

Last week the City of Rochester released the Final Design Report for the Midtown Rising Redevelopment Project which defines the site's final redevelopment buildout including the street grid, development parcels and open space as well as sidewalks, parking, sewer, water and other required public improvements. The ambitious transformation called for in this Final Design is predicated on a public investment to build new streets and utilities on the site.  In this way if approved, the EDA grant will be a fundamental linchpin to reverse years of disinvestment in downtown Rochester and usher in new jobs and private capital investments. 

I sincerely hope this application meets with your approval.  Thank you for your consideration of this matter.  For additional information please do not hesitate to contact me or my aide, Grant Kerr, in my Washington, D.C. office at  2022246542.



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