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Council frustrated as Bloom reconsiders second phase of riverfront project

Council frustrated as Bloom reconsiders second phase of riverfront project

Bloom International Realty may be rethinking plans to build the second phase of its $230 million riverfront development in downtown Rochester.

City Administrator Steve Rymer told the Rochester City Council on Monday that Bloom has notified his office that it still plans to move forward with the first phase of the project, which is primarily made up of senior housing. However, according to Rymer, Bloom now says it wants to “test the market conditions” for the condos and townhomes that had been included in the initial proposal. The Abu Dhabi-based developer is said to be conducting a market study, which could take roughly four to six months.

“In the meantime, we are going to continue to work with Bloom and have discussions so we can understand what this means,” said Rymer.

The council, along with the Destination Medical Center Board, have already approved a tax increment financing agreement with Bloom for about $20 million. The package, which would be distributed over the course of several years, was based on a proposal that included both phases of the project.

Bloom also reached a deal to acquire the city-owned land needed for the project. In exchange for $8 million in real estate, Bloom agreed to make more than a third of its 460 parking spots available for public use. That deal, though, is on hold as the two parties decide what to do next.

The initial agreements between the city and Bloom followed three years in which the developer had exclusive negotiating rights on the property.

At Monday’s meeting, Councilor Michael Wojcik expressed his frustration with how those exclusive rights were used. He suggested the council find a way to ensure the same process — in which a developer receives exclusive rights without any money down — is not followed again in the future.

“Irrespective of this one, I am interested in seeing some policy changes from the city council,” said Wojcik. “I have been very critical of how we’ve handled the Bloom development for four years.”

Noting how much time the city has spent on the project, Council President Randy Staver said he is becoming impatient.

“We have expended a great deal of resources on this,” said Staver. “To be fair, we did some of this to ourselves by renewing the exclusive negotiating agreement, and I would say that I would not want to do that again. I don’t want to go down that path.”

As part its deal with the city, Bloom would have to come back before the council if its plans change. At that point, Wojcik, who voted against the TIF agreement, said the city should renegotiate its terms with Bloom.

Construction on the first phase of the project, which includes the parcel now home to Legend’s, has been scheduled to begin later this year.

Housing RFP for parking ramp

After failing to attract any interest the first time around, the City of Rochester is re-opening a request for proposals for housing above the new $31 million downtown parking ramp.

Located behind the soon-to-be-completed Hilton development, the six-story ramp was designed to accommodate 10 additional floors.

City administration is hopeful a developer will come forward with a plan that includes affordable housing for the site.

The structure, to be known as Ramp 6, is set to open to vehicles next month.

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