The project manager for a pair of residential towers proposed in downtown Rochester says he can’t guarantee construction won’t disrupt daily activity for its neighbors.
However, Jonathan Golli, of Pittsburgh-based AE7, the company hired by Bloom International Realty to plan the Bloom Riverfront Towers project, said he would work to address concerns as planning moves forward.
Those concerns, raised Monday, came as the Rochester City Council voted unanimously to approve the planned use for the property where the Bloom towers would be built. The approval is still subject to a purchase agreement between Bloom and the city, which owns the property on the west bank of the Zumbro River between Second and Fourth streets south. That land is where Legends Bar and Grill and the city’s Second Street parking ramp now sit.
Neighbors’ concerns for construction include access to the skyway, as well as the alley, through a four-year period of construction.
While the skyway wouldn’t be interrupted until the second building is started — likely in the third year of the project — Golli said he doesn’t see a way to keep it open through the entire period.
As planned, construction would begin with a southern building, to have 215 senior living units, ranging from independent living to memory care, in a 22-story tower reaching 272 feet.
Once the first building is complete, the second building would be built on the part of the lot north of Third Street, where the ramp sits. The tower would house 181 hotel rooms and 132 condos.
Rochester resident Patrick Dean, who owns neighboring property, said the proposal creates a conflict.
“This project favors a senior living facility in phase 1 to the disadvantage of a senior living facility called Fontaine Tower,” he said. Dean owns a different property than Fontaine Tower.
Skyway connections are a key part of the Bloom plan, but Golli said the path during construction may need to include providing access to the street level to bypass construction until the skyway is re-established.
Golli agreed to work on a skyway access management plan as one of the criteria for approval of the conditional-use permit for the project, which approved the land use.
Another concern raised was access to the north-south alley which runs between the city lots and the back side of commercial buildings that front Broadway.
Michelle Fagan, owner of Fagan Studios, said the alley access is important to the neighborhood, and its closure could have a significant economic impact on businesses using the alley on a routine basis.
“We’re kind of small, but we’re an important, vibrant part of Rochester,” she said.
Gollis said it’s too early to address concerns, noting a contractor hasn’t been hired.
“We cannot commit that it will stay open at all times,” he said, noting he’d be willing to work on a construction timetable and communicate with neighbors regarding when alley access could be interrupted.
In addition, Richard Freese, director of Rochester Public Works, indicated that loading concerns could be addressed by closing a lane on Broadway if the alley needs to be completely closed at some point.
More details are likely to emerge in the coming months, since Golli said final development plans for the proposed $180 million project could be three months away.
Following a public hearing dominated by concerns from neighbors and others, the council unanimously approved the planned use for the property. It is subject to a purchase agreement with the city.
Council Member Mark Bilderback, who represents the ward that includes the proposed towers, said his support doesn’t mean the project won’t be watched as it advances.
“We’re going to continue to make sure the lines of communication are open,” he said, citing a desire to address concerns.
Council Member Nick Campion also noted a desire to ensure public concerns are addressed, especially since the developer is seeking $20 million in tax-increment financing to support the project.
“The expectations for this project are going to be high,” he said.