Tag Archives: Renaissance Square

Want Crappy Rochester News? I Got It..

080809_Kodak_Logo Kodak has just posted a second-quarter loss which is staggering, relative to this time last year: 20% down from second-quarter 2008. Oh, that’s not good. CEO Antonio Perez says his company predicts a 1 to 3 percent up-tick in sales by the end of the year, which is far from reassuring.

And not quite as crappy, but crappy nonetheless is news that the Rochester Broadway Theater League is bowing to the obvious and looking outside Rochester for it’s new venue. You may recall – a hazy, foggy, far off memory, to be sure – that the Renaissance Square project was originally to include three theaters for use by RBTL, MCC and others. Well, that shit ain’t happenin’, is it?

So once again, those in search of culture must look outside Rochester. Great.

AGH!! Duffy, Let.It.Die!

OK, so I’m not much on grammar when it comes to the Renn Square Project. But now Duffy’s on-again, off-again support for Renn Square appears to be on-again. And isn’t that lovely? Goodness knows we wouldn’t want to waste an opportunity to throw good money after bad on this misbegotten troglodyte of a project.

Can someone at least tell me what “Renaissance” means in this context? I mean, without any of the theaters?

Please Welcome Harry Davis to DFE

I’m very happy to have as a guest blogger the Working Families Party nominee for the At-Large City Council seat, Harry Davis. Harry and I have been speaking for the last week about having him write for the website, and today he submits a fantastic piece on the efficacy of Renn Square relative to high speed rail, the other proposal which is largely seen as a competitor to Renn Square’s bus station.

I’ve said it many times in different ways, but I think that on balance the combined transit center is a much better idea than is the slowly-shrinking Renn Square project. This is particularly true because Renn Square has been shrinking over the years to a shadow of it’s former – albeit imaginary – self.

This post also opens up the Guest Blogger blog for this website. I’m hoping to be able to have more personalities write for this blog in the coming months. Stay tuned!

How Monroe County and Saudi Arabia Compare

If you’ve not had a chance to read it, I highly recommend the book The J-Curve for all of you interested in international politics. The book is a great primer on international politics as a function of state stability, and state stability as a curve tracing from totalitarian stability to democratic stability. The book also details a number of case studies including Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, the education of the populace is the job of the Wahabist religious sects. This is why people living in the heart of the land that gave us modern mathematics and a goodly portion of our alphabet can recite whole passages of the Koran but not read or perform basic algebra.

All of this is to say that, in the absence of government works projects, very few in Saudi Arabia are capable of holding down jobs on their own. Unemployment is rampant and so the government is constantly building new soccer stadiums and monuments to themselves as a means to keep the inevitable revolution of millions of starving, uneducated citizens at bay. These public works serve no useful function and generate no revenue of their own, but merely serve as make-busy jobs until the next useless project can be funded.

Here in Monroe County, we have no Wahabist imams forcing religion down our throats. We have no problem with education, in fact our schools are the envy of a majority of the United States. But when Monroe County insists that the Renaissance Square project is a good “shovel ready” project with which to spend our Federal Stimulus dollars, the only reasonable benefit I see is precisely this make-busy idea that keeps Saudi citizens working.

Because while generating jobs to stimulate the economy is a good thing – and I would submit that blue collar jobs are especially important on this point – focusing on the construction industry for economic growth is ultimately self-defeating. Construction jobs are only really useful to the economy as a whole where those jobs are backed up by genuine economic activity. If we worked to build our manufacturing base in Monroe County, the employees of those manufacturing companies would have permanent jobs and the companies would need construction workers to build or repair facilities. But when we focus on construction jobs, once the project is built, what happens next?

Nothing. Which exactly the problem with every monument built in Saudi Arabia and exactly what’s wrong with Renn Square as an economic project. What new jobs will be created by Renn Square after it’s built? I can only think of minimum wage jobs working in stores and restaurants inside the new terminal. . . and not even that if Bob Duffy gets his scaled-down project. What new revenue will Renn Square generate? Nada, which makes it about as useful as a statue of the Prince of Saud.

Better that we should focus on building a new terminal at the site of the current Amtrak station, if we are to build any new bus terminal at all. We can get more bang for the buck if we create a terminal that both serves the Rochester public and advocates for Rochester to the people who travel through here on rail. Better still that we should use the Stimulus money to pave our streets and fix our roads. These things generate revenue and have intrinsic value. Renn Square’s only intrinsic value is as a campaign fund project.

Renn Square: Yes, Hopefully. . .

The D&C has an article published today about the big sign put up by Renn Square leaders, announcing the new project in case anyone forgot. But one point not made clear enough in the media is contained in the following two paras:

“Hopefully it attracts more attention to the Rochester community and keeps out the negative vibes from the little kids causing a lot of problems,” said downtown resident Jose Cruz, 22, who relies on the buses to get to school at the Everest Institute in Irondequoit.

Cruz is looking forward to a warm place to wait for the bus and more places to eat. However, two of his complaints about public transit — rowdy children and crowded buses — won’t be helped by a new terminal.

Got that? We’re spending $230 million dollars to move the problem we have at Main and Liberty Pole down a few blocks to Main and Clinton.

As I’ve been saying recently, Renn Square may end up being inevitable. So, if we’re going to do this, we may as well get it right. So, whose going to ask what they do about security in the new facility? Or why we should even do what we’re doing if the result is a lateral move? What, precisely, is being improved here?

Is it Time to Start Thinking Differently on the Renn Square?

Rachel Barnhart at Channel 13 has the story about the Renaissance Square (damn, if I ever spell that fucking word right). It’s simple: they’re pushing ahead to start construction this year, come hell or high water, and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is the guy leading the ship on the federal level. The broad-strokes reason seems to be that union support is behind this and also because the federal stimulus package money is floating around looking for “shovel-ready projects.” Renn Square certainly qualifies as that, at least on the bus terminal side.

OK. So it’s no secret that I’ve been fairly opposed to the Renn Square project as it sits right now. I personally believe that the project got way off track and makes less and less sense as time wears on. Now, they want to postpone the building of the last remaining theatre, leading me to wonder what’s so Renaissance about the Renaissance Square?

But whatever is the case and whatever my opinion might be, it seems all but certain at this point that the Renn Square project is officially on. And to the extent that it will provide jobs and more importantly, commerce to Rochester, it is a good thing that it will happen this year. I’d wished that we’d taken the opportunity to combine the bus garages with the Amtrak station and worked it into a larger plan for transportation commerce in Rochester, but even without these other things, the potential benefit for downtown is there. Increased downtown foot traffic, commerce, profile and jobs are all potential boons for an ailing downtown.

There are significant problems in the absence of the theatre, however. For one, a great deal of the traffic the RTS bus system gets is high school students and young adults. One of the reasons the Midtown Mall failed was because of the inability to provide the security necessary to corral a bunch of hormonal kids with time to kill. What is the plan for security at the Renn Square? Without the theatre to provide high-income traffic, are we going to just get a lot of Sbarro Pizza and other stuff we used to have at MidTown? There is a need for such fare, but if that’s all that’s offered, we’re in danger of sliding right back where we were in a new location. May as well start lining up the sports teeshirt stores and smoke shops while we’ve got the time.

So since there’s almost no chance of wrestling this one to the ground and since there are a great many issues to be worked out for which the rest of us in Rochester can voice our opinions, I suggest that we on the Left in Rochester find a way to embrace this pig and work for it rather than against it. Rather than boycotting the process, maybe the better way to tackle the problem of Renn Square is to go full-bore into supporting it. After all, the problem with boycotts is that you may feel better about not being involved, you don’t really have a say in what happens anymore. You can’t make anything better, you can only make it fail.

I’d be very interested in knowing other people’s thoughts on the matter.

On the Meaning of the Word “Plan”

I hesitate to use the word “plan” to describe anything which defines the Renaissance Square “project.” Plans do change, its true. But when every six months brings an entirely new concept to your “plans,” well then, they’re not plans. They’re just crap.

Rochester’s RenSquare gets a new look | democratandchronicle.com | Democrat and Chronicle

A revised design concept and new facades for Renaissance SquareRenaissance Square were unveiled Thursday during a public workshop that drew a modest crowd.

They dangle new union jobs in front of us, but so far, the only people making money are the “planning” peeps.

Renn Square: “Retailers,” You Say?

The Rochester Business Journal and 13WHAM both have articles up covering a press conference wherein the Main and Clinton Development Corporation trotted out a few local business owners to say they supported the Renn Square project. But I can’t help noticing that in two articles by two separate media outlets, only three businesses are identified, and then not by name. “A dry cleaner, a convenience shop and a new deli” is the extent of the support identified.

I don’t discount the value of these businesses downtown, but I hardly think this represents a groundswell of grassroots support for the project. To be charitable, perhaps we’re missing some information in the reporting?

Hurray! Ren Square Funds Disappear!

Score one for New York State underfunding Rochester!  For once, it’s a good thing, as WHAM13 reports that the money for the Ren Square project have disappeared from the state budget.  Hopefully, we can soon stick a fork in this gravy-train atrocity and move on with more important work.  Seriously, people, lets get a grant to put more cops on the street and end the over-stretched Zero Tolerance program, while we’re at it.