The city has unveiled plans for a “Meet Me @ the 5” project hoped to jump start the postponed redevelopment of the downtown Parcel 5 space.
The project, which includes landscaping and other amenities soon to be installed, is meant to eventually move the vacant eight-acre plot where Midtown Plaza once stood into “an open door, 24 hours-a-day entertainment space seven days a week 365 days a year,” Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren says.
A plan to create a multifaceted entertainment venue at Parcel 5 was first announced by Warren in 2018. The plan Warren outlined then called for construction of an entertainment complex, performance space and other mixed-use development.
Unfortunately, says Warren, development of the downtown parcel was halted by the pandemic. A few weeks ago, officials of Rochester Downtown Development Corp. and the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center contacted the city, saying they were eager to reactivate the Parcel 5 development push.
Plans unveiled Thursday call for landscaping and installation of a walkway to create a public gathering place that Warren is calling “a temporary entertainment space.”
The city budget already includes some $250,000 marked for Parcel 5 landscaping, she says.
Events for the Meet Me @ the 5 program are to be organized and coordinated by the Rochester Riverside Convention Center. No specific events or programs are yet scheduled, but “possibilities are endless,” Convention Center executive director James Brown says.
“We believe there is great opportunity here to assist in the reactivation of Parcel 5 and my staff and myself are really looking forward to getting down to business. We really do believe there is limitless opportunity for (events) from concerts to sporting events, lunches, frisbee tournaments, you name it,” Brown says.
The space will one day be at least partly commercially developed, predicts RDDC executive committee chair Chris Hill.
“This is one of the most prime pieces of real estate in downtown Rochester,” Hill says. “We look forward to the day to get this on the tax rolls in a different capacity, but in the meantime, we have a lot of space to fill downtown.”
To get an idea of what Parcel 5 might become, Warren and others including RDDC’s Hill traveled to Kansas City, Mo., to scope out the Kansas City Live Block, a venue that covers a full city block and includes a two-level structure housing restaurants, taverns and night spots.
Says Warren: “We want to make sure that we create a space here that people could love to come to, to enjoy, to eat, to explore, to do different things in.”
Will Astor is Rochester Beacon senior writer.