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Downtown developers look for revival ahead

Rochester Business Journal
May 1, 2015

(Photo by Kimberly McKinzie)

Ken Glazer believes Rochester is ready to take off.

“We are at a really fantastic point of time,” Glazer said of recent efforts to rebuild in the city. “We are setting the stage for a really fantastic city, for a fresh, new Rochester.”

Glazer, managing partner of Buckingham Properties LLC, is hoping that the projects his firm has underway—along with other developers who have plans to re-develop downtown buildings—are a catalyst for change.

He was one of the four developers who spoke about downtown residential projects they have in the works to a group of roughly 300 at Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center on Wednesday morning.

The “Downtown Real Estate Revival” event was part of the RBJ Power Breakfast series.

Glazer spoke of two projects his firm has in the works that include residential components: The biggest is the Tower at Midtown, a $59 million redevelopment project with plans for some 180 residential units.

Buckingham also is developing the Edge of the Wedge, a redevelopment of 40,000 square feet of space in the South Wedge for retail and office development, along with residential lofts.

The other panelists were:

  •  Joseph Eddy, vice president of Boston-based Winn Development Inc., whose company is redeveloping the eight-story Sibley Centre, with plans that include high-end apartments and senior housing, as well as educational and commercial components;
  •  Nelson Leenhouts, CEO of Home Leasing LLC, whose company recently was selected by the city of Rochester as the developer for the Charlotte Street redevelopment project, which will consist of 72 upscale apartments and 14 for-sale townhomes, as well as commercial space; and
  •  Thomas Masaschi, co-founder and managing partner of DHD Ventures LLC, whose current properties in the works include 88 Elm St. and the Hiram Sibley building on Alexander Street, each of which will have luxury apartments, and 50 Chestnut St., where there are plans to add market rate apartments.

The developers were bullish on the future of downtown, noting a need to add the residential units, which will ultimately lead to further commercial development. Items they would like to see downtown include adequate parking and green space, as well as greater night-time venues.

When asked what demographic they expect downtown living to appeal to, the answer was broad: from empty nesters to young professionals. Amenities for the projects range from underground parking to restaurants to dog parks.

The panel also believes the number of units that will be available for rent in the near future—which total in the hundreds with the projects of these four developers—can be filled.

They are seeing demand and noted the number of available units in Rochester is much smaller than those found in similar size cities in other parts of the country.

Masaschi, for example, said his firm’s Button Loft Apartments was fully leased within three months of opening. Buckingham’s 30-unit Edge of the Wedge is expected to be full this summer.

“I’m excited for the future here,” Masaschi said. “It’s a different city already.”

5/1/15 (c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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