6 things to know about Heart of the City plans
The vision for Destination Medical Center’s Heart of the City subdistrict continues to unfold.
On Monday, the Rochester City Council will review the latest plans for two blocks of public space centered on the east half of Peace Plaza. The DMC Corp. board will continue the conversation Thursday morning.
Patrick Seeb, DMC Economic Development Agency director of economic development and placemaking, said many community conversations have been held since the design process started a year ago.
“There’s nothing that creates more public conversation than changing public space, especially space you think you like already,” he said.
Seeb said parts of the original proposal have been changed as a result of ongoing conversations, and other aspects have not been changed.
Here are a few things to know about proposals for the first phase of Heart of the City redesign and other work being done in the area:
1 The price tag hasn’t changed much
The estimated cost of construction and related expenses stands at $15 million, according to a memo to the City Council.
In September, council members raised concerns with a projected $16.7 million price tag for the proposed design.
Seeb said the EDA team and designers have worked to better define and justify the costs, which are expected to be covered by DMC infrastructure funds from the state.
He said part of the justification is the creation of new downtown public space — increasing 1 acre to 1.5 acres — and the required infrastructure improvements.
“We’re going to set a new standard for how streets work,” he said.
2 Changes will meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards
Shane Coen of Coen and Partners said the redesign seeks to bring Peace Plaza and two blocks of First Street Southwest into ADA compliance, noting much if the current area does not meet expected accessibility standards.
Part of the proposed change will involve creating a curbless street on First Avenue Southwest from Center Street to Second Street, which will make the space more inviting for people using wheelchairs.
“If you are in a wheelchair, you have a place to unload through the whole street,” he said.
While plans indicate the 35 on-street parking spaces will be reduced by more than half, the remaining spots will become Americans with Disability Act compliant.
That will raise the number of handicap-accessible spaces in the two blocks of First Avenue from two to 17.
3 Peace Fountain will remain but be changed
After proposals to move the fountain met with criticism, Coen said the latest design keeps the sculpture in place but seeks to display it in a way that is closer to the artist’s original intent.
Coen said Rochester sculptor Charles Eugene Gagnon envisioned people being able to look at the sky through the fountain’s interlocking bronze doves.
To achieve that, the fountain will be placed on a pedestal and the water’s flow rate will be lowered to trickle down the sides of the birds, removing the need for the large bowl that was added when the sculpture was installed in Peace Plaza in 1989.
The fountain will then become part of a very shallow pool that can be expanded or contracted, depending on how the plaza is being used.
4 More than 100 trees will be added
Seeb said the 11 trees that exist along First Avenue between Center and Second streets will grow to 117 under the proposed plans, with several ending up in Peace Plaza to create a windbreak.
The addition of porous paving will also allow more trees along the street and sidewalks.
5 Chateau Theatre exhibits are still being defined
Amy Noble Seitz, founder of Exhibits Development Group, said work continues on an agreement to operate the Historic Chateau Theatre. Part of that, she said will be defining the first exhibits the group will bring to the site.
“Whatever we do really needs to resonate,” she said, noting exhibits presented in the group’s presentation to the City Council were examples of what could be seen in Rochester.
In addition to defining the exhibits being brought to the theater, Seitz said her team is reaching out to local community groups, including those who submitted alternate operating plans for the facility, to create partnerships.
6 Wells Fargo building work continues
With a section of First Avenue closed to relocate a water main for the Wells Fargo building, Ryan Cos. project manager Sean Ryan said plans call for the building renovations to be complete by the end of the year.
In addition to creating space for new future tenants, the Wells Fargo work will extend the building’s atrium to align with the Chateau Theatre.
Work on the $26.6 million project, which is receiving $2.4 million in tax-increment financing, also includes lighting for under the skyway over First Avenue and changing the building’s reflective windows.