New York State has agreed to fund an extra $15 million to the City of Rochester’s demolition of Midtown. In a memorandum of understanding (MOU), the State, the City and Paetec have agreed to a $65 million dollar cost to take down and remediate the shopping center site. The MOU was signed this week in a closed session of City Council.
“We knew that it wasn't going to be exactly 50 million,” says Bill Pritchard, Rochester City Council member.
“Nothing that has to happen is news to us. It's daunting, there are all sorts of challenges but it's exciting,” says Gary Walker, communications director for the City of Rochester.
“Until those demolition questions are answered, it's very difficult to put price tag on it,” says Carolee Conklin, Rochester City Council member.
Just a week into taking Midtown Plaza down to make room for Paetec’s world headquarters, the City of Rochester is already putting together teams to deal with each demolition issue. City officials say they will hire a project management group to keep all those teams on task.
“We fully understand that it's going to take a company or an individual to kind of head up the process because it's going to be beyond the scope of City Hall,” says Walker.
Midtown Plaza presents several issues in its demolition: how to demolish the building, asbestos remediation, relocation of stores and even salvaging parts of center. The litany of demolition items within the project may easily cost more than $50 million dollars which is why the state has agreed to fund an additional $15 million.
“It's nice to have that little insurance policy but it's not our expectation that we're going to spend 65 million dollars,” says Walker who says the City estimates the cost will fall more between $55 and $60 million.
“And if it's going to exceed the 65 million that the state has promised us, well then guess what, we're going to stop everything, we're not going to proceed and we're going to look at where those funds come from,” says Pritchard.
The catch: the $65 million is money which still needs approval by the state legislature. It’s a risk that City lawmakers say is worth taking because so far, the project has received bi-partisan support from the State legislature.
“The democrats in the assembly and the republicans in the Senate have been very, very supportive of Rochester and I wouldn't see any reason for that to change,” says Conklin.