Rochester airport gets $18M in state funds

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The Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport has received $18 million in state funds to modernize the main terminal and related areas to better accommodate travelers. 

The $38.1 million modernization project received the funds from Gov. Kathy Hochul’s $230 million Upstate Airport Economic Development and Revitalization Competition, which is part of a larger effort to revitalize the airports in Upstate New York. 

“By making critical investments to further modernize facilities across Upstate New York, we are lifting upstate airports to new heights and providing a 21st century transportation experience that travelers expect and deserve,” said Hochul, who came to Rochester for the announcement.

Renovations to the Greater Rochester airport include redesigning the main terminal area to help travelers get to where they need to faster and with fewer hassles, officials say, with the entryway, ticketing, and baggage claims at the airport to be outfitted with natural lighting, LED fixtures, and improved signage. Further plans include an expanded entrance canopy as well as the development of a mobile app with parking, flight, and other airport information. Construction is expected to be complete by next summer.

Other features of development include upgrades to the terminal’s veterans area, as well as the creation of a Frederick Douglass legacy area to honor the abolitionist’s contributions during his time here in Rochester. The current observation deck of the airport will become a visitor experience designed to introduce users to his legacy, with historical documents, artifacts, and other remnants of the civil rights leader, officials say.

“Investing in the modernization and accessibility of the Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport is crucial for the future of Monroe County,” said Monroe County Executive Adam Bello. “(We) look forward to showcasing these improvements that not only will keep the airport in the top 10 small airports nationally but will also provide airport customers a first-class experience traveling to and from Rochester.”

While in Rochester, Hochul noted the construction on a $12.7 million project downtown to transform four commercial buildings into Harper’s Corner, which is envisioned as a lively shopping destination with new affordable homes at the corner of Clinton Avenue and Main Street. The mixed-use development will have ground-floor commercial space and 11 residential apartments.

The renovation of these buildings is part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, where $10 million in funding was awarded to the city of Rochester toward five projects to increase walkability, provide housing and business opportunities, and service the community through the construction of new public and outdoor event spaces. 

The goal of both the airport revitalization and downtown projects is to transform areas of the city through architectural, aesthetic and modernization efforts.

Narm Nathan is a Rochester Beacon intern, a senior at the University of Rochester and a member of the Beacon Oasis Project’s inaugural cohort. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected]

3 thoughts on “Rochester airport gets $18M in state funds

  1. I am distressed by these government subsidies on a huge greenhouse gas-producing form of transit when there is little to no investment in more climate-friendly inter-city travel, passenger rail and bus. This is where we need to focus our investments for a sustainable future.

    • Your climate-friendly concerns might be better directed toward other “friendly” concerns. The urban educational climate, the urban crime climate and the like. You can build thee most beautiful gate or entrance to a city, but that beauty is short lived if you get your car hijacked in broad daylight. There is also a port of Rochester, which is the water-gate or access to Rochester. Once you get off your boat, Lake Ave. and you’ve seen it all. Rochester has had opportunities galore but has failed to capitalize on those opportunities for decades. Upgrading the facade is secondary to the heart of the city.

  2. A pity that we have to spend more tax dollars to “upgrade” the Monroe County Airport after millions were wasted the last time around (the $31,000,000 spent on the absurd lighted canopy just three years ago comes to mind).

    Sadly, none of these upgrades will change the fact that our so-called International Airport still has no passenger flights to or from any other country. Nor will it change how the county demeaned the memory of Frederick Douglass by slapping his name on the facility. Not in a move to honor one of Rochester’s two most prominent residents, but in an embarrassing attempt to enhance the city’s image by grabbing a little reflected glory.

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