Rochester Revitalization: You’ve Been Asking the Wrong People

For so long, much though I did admire Mayor Johnson’s attempts at revitalizing the city, I was increasingly frustrated by the clear lack of one important element: the citizens of the city.  Even though I would have disagreed with them (and it now seems, I would have been wrong), the citizens of Rochester clearly would not have agreed to the Fast Ferry dillio had there been greater disclosure.

But perhaps even more importantly, efforts to ramp up the city’s night life and club scene probably could have benefited from asking those of us who actually go out once in a while:

The future of High Falls on the table || Democrat & Chronicle: Local News

“What we’ve recommended is they start to make plans to sell off that property,” CGR president and chief economist Kent Gardner said, speaking of the entire Brown’s Race block the city owns.

He said part of the reason High Falls has struggled to emerge as an entertainment destination is the lack of pedestrian traffic. The area is largely isolated, cut off by the river to the east, the Inner Loop to the south, and a sea of parking lots then Frontier Field to the west. Yet office space has held its ground from the beginning.

The lack of pedestrian traffic is indeed a problem. But a larger problem for High Falls to overcome is it’s great suck-ass-ness.  That is a hurdle that not many can overcome, and certainly the parade of useless bars and kitch-theme restaurants is evidence of that problem.

But ask anyone in the restaurant or bar biz and they will tell you: if you buy a dive, you can fix it up, make it a restaurant, charge outrageous prices, and the same people will return.  Because people are people and we are creatures of habit.  Likewise, if you build a bar where no one ever went to drink, you can expect that no one will go there to drink.  That’s exactly what happened in High Falls.  Oh, sure.  On any given night, you could count on a heck of a lot of people hanging out there.  The trouble was: they weren’t the same people.  There was no “there” there.

It was like going to the mall, only with mixed drinks.  There was no particular reason to believe you were invested in the place, no reason to believe you belonged there, no reason to believe that you were a part of anything really special.  Moreover, the mall comparison does not extend only to the feeling of the place, it also included the decor.  There was never the slightest doubt that you were walking through a place scientifically designed and generously funded to affect the feeling of being hip.  Like the tofurkey of culture.

So apparently this time, they want the public to be involved and are asking citizens to go to the meeting (or “charrette,” or whatever-the-hell they want to call it) on January 19th, this Friday,  . . between noon and 5:30pm.  Hmm. . . I guess they want the advice of the unemployed, retired and 3rd-shifters, but not the rest of Rochester.  Well, I’m unemployed, so I guess I’ll contribute.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

powered by performancing firefox

By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.