With Rochester alley vacated, developer plans for demolition
A five-parcel site across from Saint Marys Hospital will soon be redeveloped into a surface parking lot, and eventually redeveloped again into a full-service hotel, said Javon Bea, a principle member of 2nd Street Parking LLC, the owner of the site.
A Rochester City Council decision Monday night to vacate a public alley on the site puts Bea one step closer to those goals. The decision came after two and a half hours of testimony Monday night during the council's continued public hearing on the matter. The council already heard four hours of testimony about it during two previous meetings.
It was a controversial issue because business owners and tenants who use the alley opposed its vacation, saying it provides necessary access for service trucks and emergency vehicles into the parking lot behind their buildings on Second Street.
In July 2012, 2nd Street Parking LLC purchased the five properties at the corner of Second Street and 13th Avenue Southwest, including four old hotels. It has a demolition permit and plans to raze the buildings soon to make way for the parking lot, Bea said during Monday's public hearing.
However, he said he couldn't enter into the $2.5 million design phase of his $40 million hotel project without knowing the alley would be part of the site.
Bea offered a public easement in exchange for the alley. It will be constructed parallel to an existing one off of First Street Southwest.
The council approved the alley vacation with the condition that 2nd Street Parking LLC dedicate the easement. The resolution also requires the property owner to obtain the council's approval on a development plan for something other than a surface parking lot within five years. If that is not achieved, the alley will go back to the city.
In addition to explaining his plans for the site Monday night, Bea also attempted to reassure the council and the public that he is sincere about his plans to develop a hotel. He also hopes to build a tunnel under Second Street to connect his hotel with Saint Marys Hospital, he said.
He said he has a personal connection to the area because of time he spent working at Saint Marys when he was younger. In fact, he said he was an assistant to Sister Generose Gervais at the hospital for several years.
Members of the Kutzky Park Neighborhood Association spoke against vacating the alley and said they doubted the developer will move ahead with the plans he's announced. They said they fear the parking lot will become permanent, as many other so-called "temporary" lots have in downtown Rochester.