It is been awhile since we have spoken. There is a great deal of news to share. Some of this news may be shocking to some. First, the great news. Food is coming to Main and Clinton! My new restaurant called Food is scheduled to open on March 10th. The signs will be up next week. We will be serving breakfast and lunch 5 days a week, M-F, 6:00AM-4:00PM. We will be located at 1 Clinton Ave in the old Amiels Sub Shop location and only serving takeout until I can renovate the adjacent store (226 East Main Street) for expansion. This was my fathers jewelry store for over fifty years. In preparation, I have evicted the pawn shop from the corner in order to provide a nice place for people to eat at a counter, or take out good quality food. My idea was to knock out the wall separating the two stores and build a diner style lunch counter where my dad's store was located. There is a great need to feed the students, office workers, and new construction workers arriving in April to work on Midtown Plaza. My potential problem was, and still is, whether or not the City would give me a variance on the need for a public restroom. The store is very small, and a standard ADA approved bathroom would take over half of the usable space in the store. Obviously, if I had to comply with normal regulations, I would not be able to do the sit-down portion.
At the same time that I was contemplating this move, I approached Lamar Advertising to discuss the hideous billboard that is "stuck" to my building. I wanted that eyesore removed. Lamar, however, had other ideas. They have been a part of that corner for over 75 years. They want to remain part of that corner and part of Rochester's renovation plan. They have offered to remove that monstrosity and replace it with a much smaller, but beautiful HD digital billboard. This comes with a price tag of app. $500,000. They are willing to make that investment if I give them a new 15 year lease. Of course I said yes. I have seen their renderings, and the new look of the corner with my new restaurant, new digital board, and the facade fixed up is nothing less than fantastic. Keep in mind I am talking about private money. The only thing I need from the City is a little cooperation, and honest dealings. Sounds simple...but, well, you know!
Now comes the good stuff. I decided to quietly reach out to the City and show them the plans from both Lamar, and our new restaurant. I will have these renderings posted in the next couple of days. As I presented all my drawings and shared my vision for the immediate future of the corner, I felt as if the response I was getting was rather dull. I fully expected that the City would jump at the chance to both beautify and improve the corner at no expense to them. Well, the bomb dropped...RenSquare!!! No, please, anything but RENSQUARE!!!
Yes! RenSquare! The utterance of that name gets me crazy. I asked them what RenSquare has to do with anything. After all, Maggie did publicly say it was dead. Ann Kress and MCC said it was dead, the Mayor said it was dead. Mark Aesh said it was dead. Actually, Mark said screw everybody, he was going on his own and building his own terminal further North. Whew! Good, let him go way up North and take all those buses and his arrogance with it. As you may remember, I virtually begged Ann Kress to talk with us and show her my plan for the MCC campus. After being unresponsive for a long time, MCC said they were taking a step back and looking at all their options. I believe MCC has appointed a new committee to look at possible locations. Another committee! Another study! LOL. What pure unadulterated crap from all of them.
I was asked to "hang on" for awhile because, are you ready for this one? The parties are at the table trying to work out a last minute deal to salvage the free money. What parties? The same group we have come to know so well. The Mayor, the County Executive, The RGRTA, and the new player, Ann Kress representing MCC. I must admit, I don't blame them for being remorseful over the loss of the free money. I also understand that none of these players have the money to do the project. The only one not present here is the RBTL. They have had quite enough of this fiasco. So, if the RBTL is not part of this plan, what happens to my corner? I smell another eminent domain fight brewing. I am dusting off the armor and meeting with my attorneys to make sure that they don't try anything cute. Even if this new and hopefully last, attempt at resurrecting this horrible plan is successful, the plan still stinks. It is very bad for the city. The next time this dies I want it cremated. Then we can spread the ashes at Main and Clinton, and be done with it. Let private developers do this and it will be done correctly and profitably.
This my problem, I need to get my plan moving. I cannot wait anymore. The people that are working and living downtown need something to happen. Can anyone imagine how these RenSquare resurrection meetings are going? We have a group of people who can't stand each other and have nothing but distrust for each other trying to make a deal. I am betting that they wont get it together. In the meantime, the City has granted an application for a new grocery store on Main Street next to the Gateway Center in the old McDonald's building. I am fielding inquiries on a daily basis for new businesses to come downtown. This is our chance to spark some changes on this important corner. No more political nonsense! For those of you who follow my blog and agree with my vision, start calling your City Council people, the Mayor, and anyone else who can help us move forward. In the meantime, I am moving with haste to get Food open and remove the billboard. I welcome any questions or comments. I will update this blog regularly and keep everyone in the know.