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Luxury complex on river planned

Rochester Business Journal
March 22, 2013

Morgan Management LLC plans to buy a parcel of land along South Avenue behind Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and build a 100-unit luxury apartment complex overlooking the Genesee River.
 
The Perinton property management firm expects to close the deal within days, CEO Robert Morgan said this week.
 
The current owner is Lehigh Station LLC, city records show. The 1.63-acre site is assessed at $50,000, with an address of 103 Court St., records show. The property is part of the Farash portfolio, Morgan said.
 
A project site plan envisions a $20 million building cover-ing much of the property from the popular eatery to a ramp to eastbound I-490 and extending to South Avenue over the eastern entrance of the former Rochester subway tunnel.
 
"It's a difficult site," said Bret Garwood, director of business and housing development for the city of Rochester. "There's a lot going on.
 
"There are a number of easements and encumbrances, which is why going through site plan reviews is an important step. The site plan review is going to help sort all those issues out."
 
The proposed three-story, W-shaped structure would include an underground parking garage on its eastern side by the entrance to the historic subway tunnel.
 
"The property sits down, so the grades actually work already for a parking structure," Morgan Management vice president Kevin Morgan said.
 
The city has wrestled for years with preservation groups over the subway tunnel, with some city officials saying the cost to maintain it has become prohibitive.
 
"There are a number of easements," Garwood said of the Morgan property. "There's one in particular that requires access into that tunnel. I don't want to get into the weeds here, but if they can do that in such a way as to respect the easements ..."
 
He paused, then added, "It's a difficult site."
 
The Genesee Riverway Trail would run between the complex and the river, through a promenade in front of the building.
 
Morgan Management expects to have formal applications ready for city approval in two weeks, Kevin Morgan said. The company has the property under contract, subject to city approvals.
 
As the city of Rochester developed its trail system, it was unsure whether the property acquired by the Perinton firm could be developed, Garwood said.
 
"It is a tough spot," Morgan said. "But we think it's a great spot because it's obviously right on the water, and the building we're designing is going to have really spectacular views. I would say half the units will have river views."
 
The complex would include one- and two-bedroom units ranging from 850 to 1,100 square feet, Morgan said. The proposal also calls for some 4,000 square feet of ground-level retail space near the intersection of Court Street and South Avenue.
 
"We've been actually coordinating back and forth with the city, with our site plan and their plans for this trail," Morgan said. "They're going to build a promenade that runs basically on the river side of our project. It's going to be similar to what they did on the river side of Corn Hill Landing.
 
"Then their plan is to wrap it around Dinosaur so you can walk along our property line on the promenade and then behind Dinosaur, up onto Court Street."
 
The building's shape is designed to create sight lines to the river from as many apartments as possible.
 
"It is going to be a long building, but it's going to look similar to a W," Morgan said. "We want to maximize the views. The entire building is going to be facing the water, but they're going to have arms that jut out so more of the units will have access to the view."
 
The South Avenue side will be straighter, he said, with the entrance on that side.
 
"We'll have elevators in the building," Morgan said. "We'll have a fitness center and a clubhouse-type room, a community room (on the South Avenue side).
 
"It's going to be a high-end luxury apartment building, with safe, secure garage parking."
 
The proposed development is in line with the city's vision for expanding its trail system along the river, Garwood said.
 
"This is a continuation of our efforts to make improvements along the river," he said.
 
"The idea is to have the trail along the river and allow for the potential of something on this property. I mean, people would rather walk along the river than along South Avenue, since it's a river trail."
 
Morgan Management also is continuing to work its way through approvals for proposed apartments on University Avenue, adjacent to the George Eastman House on East Avenue.
 
Representatives of the historic site and many people in the neighborhood say they are concerned about the development because it would limit potential expansion of the museum at the Eastman Kodak Co. founder's home.
 
Morgan Management wants to buy property at 933 University Ave. now owned by a veterans organization, Monroe Voiture 111 of the national Forty & Eight Club.
 
The firm originally proposed a four-story, 110-unit complex with a 118-space parking garage on the first floor and a 3,400-square-foot clubhouse for the veterans group. George Eastman House officials say the building would change the character of the area, including its views.
 
"We're working through it," Morgan said. "We submitted a new application on that, with our new rendering and site plan. We'll be in front of the Preservation Board in May. We'll also be in front of the Planning Commission in May."

3/22/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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