Still no consensus months after Parcel 5 announcement

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- The debate on what to do with Parcel 5 is heating up this week.

In April the city announced plans to turn the vacant lot into the $130 million Golisano Center for the Performing Arts. It’s a joint venture between Morgan Development and the Rochester Broadway Theatre League.

Legislation hasn’t even reached City Council yet, but that didn’t stop Rochesterians from packing City Council chambers for a public forum Thursday night to voice their opinions on the issue, including some who support the current plan for a 3,000-seat theatre designed for touring Broadway shows.

“We have great performing arts in every facet, but we don’t have anything of that scale,” said Josh Miles of SCN Hospitality. “And I think something of that scale will do multiple things: I think it will excite our community and give them more things to do. I think it will bring more people from the region into it – which ultimately, at the end of the day, will create more jobs, create more tax dollars, create more revenue and help us ultimately to grow to be a better city.”

However, some in Rochester’s arts community feel excluded from the Rochester Broadway Theatre League’s plans.

“I’m not knocking RBTL, but we need a decent thousand-seat space for us and other not-for-profit groups to use in this community,” said Tony Award-winning choreographer Garth Fagan, who operates his dance studio in Rochester. “Especially if we’re going to call it a center for the arts.”

“Everywhere I’ve lived a performing arts center is what the RBTL is talking about plus smaller venues,” said Nichole Gantshar of the Rochester City Ballet. “So the Downtown Cabaret, Garth Fagan, ourselves, PUSH Theatre, would all have a space to perform and we become the destination.”

Some, like Geva Theatre and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, are calling for a study to evaluate the Golisano Center’s potential impact on existing arts institutions.

And others say Parcel 5 should remain an open public space.

“Nature awareness, public event space, a beautiful bandshell, and the ability for small businesses and entrepreneurs to experiment without needing a brick-and-mortar to rent out,” said Ray Ray Mitrano of Rochester. "That will foster a neighborhood people will want to stay in, not just come downtown and leave afterward, but actually live in.”

City Council made no decisions Thursday on the matter. There’s no word on what the next steps will be.

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