In project’s wake, life goes on
By Jeffrey Pieters
After being divorced and living for a while with parents, 26-year-old Megan Sample was looking for a home of her own.
She observed it on her daily commute to Rochester’s Saint Marys Hospital — the new Washington Village apartment building.
"I saw it going up," Sample said.
On Thursday she was moving into a two-bedroom unit she will share with her 1-year-old son.
"I’m very excited," she said.
The four-story apartment building, on the former Bachman’s Garden Center property on 11th Avenue Northwest, rode a rocky road to city council last year.
Neighbors fought the project plan — which will add a second four-story building later — with the argument that the development would be too thick with buildings, people and traffic for the surrounding neighborhood to stand.
They went on to fight the project in court, and lost.
And now that it’s there, neighborhood life carries on.
"It’s in our neighborhood," Lyle Plumhoff, a neighborhood leader, said with a shrug. "It’s got to be inclusive."
Neighbors have had some concerns. Traffic on the new 12th Street connection that runs through the site is too fast, some say. They object to construction debris, unfinished sidewalks, fences and landscaping on the property.
"This is the nastiest piece of landscaping I’ve ever seen in a building that’s open," said Bill Engelking, a neighbor.
All of those things are being taken care of, starting this spring, said Joe Weis, whose companies built and operate the apartment complex. He said landscaping would likely begin this week, if the weather cooperates.
Since opening last month, about two-thirds of the building’s 67 apartment units are spoken for, and residents, like Sample, are moving in every day.
"We’ve got a real interesting mix," said Mandy McLaughlin, the building manager. "Retired people, young people with their first apartment, everybody."
The Washington Village building is a carbon-copy of another Weis project, Village on Third, in southeast Rochester.
Both seem to have attracted residents who work in service-sector jobs, generally in and around the downtown area, often with Mayo Clinic.
A second building will add 51 apartments to the property. The construction schedule is indeterminate.
"Nothing will happen this year," Weis said.
"Actually, I’m hoping next year we can get something stoked up there, depending on the market."
Dave Wiesner of Paramark Corp., the property management company operating Washington Village, said the goal is to get along with the neighborhood.
"It’s in everybody’s best interest to try to get along," he said.