About $343 million in new development projects were pushed ahead this week in Rochester.
How many other American cities can boast of that kind of economic vigor? OK, this doesn’t happen every week, but if you’re in the camp of “Where’s the beef?” regarding Destination Medical Center, you have nothing to beef about this week.
But the deal that says the most about Rochester is the one that Bear Creek Christian Church put together to acquire the former Crossroads College campus. The $3.95 million deal will create desperately needed affordable housing for workforce families and also create a kind of helping services campus on the 37-acre site.
A contract for deed was signed last week, but the work has been underway for months. It’s the kind of imaginative, service-oriented redevelopment that the former Christian college site cried out for; for Crossroads alumni and friends, it must be an answer to prayers, in part, because it may allow Crossroads to continue some programming in leased space.
Jeff Urban, the Bear Creek outreach pastor, said, “We look at this as an opportunity basically to leverage every square foot out here for good.”
That means repurposing the 43 apartments for affordable housing, which will generate revenue needed to pay for mortgage and put the rest of the plan into motion. Three nonprofit social service organizations — Family Promise, Doc’s Recovery House and Network for Life — plan to move to the campus, with others expected to join them.
And members of Bear Creek Church, who have been meeting at the Boys & Girls Club on East Center Street in recent years, will now have a permanent home, though if you’re familiar with the church, infrastructure is the least of their interests. They’ve been working one-on-one and helping community members in need for years. This ambitious project looks different from what they’ve typically done, but it comes from the same place: the heart, and a wish to help wherever possible, leveraging every moment and every square foot “for good.”
Yes, the city moved closer this week to getting four flashy new projects going downtown, including the long-awaited Bloom riverfront project, worth an estimated $230 million. All are important and will add something to the city. But the Bear Creek project is the type of grassroots, community-oriented enterprise that especially warms the heart.