Buckingham May Not Want Midtown's Parcel 5

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Rochester, NY (WROC) - Buckingham Properties may not submit a proposal for Parcel 5 at Midtown, leaving a major question of what could become of the site.

Parcel 5 is the last sizable available plot at Midtown. The 1.1-acre parcel fronts Main Street.  The city issued a Request for Proposals for the property this fall, initially wanting proposals back by Thanksgiving. The deadline has been extended to January 15.

Buckingham Properties is already developing Midtown Tower into a mix of apartments and retail. The company also hopes to install a high-end movie theater.

Buckingham's founder, Larry Glazer, had a vision for Parcel 5 that he called "The Grove." It would include apartments and retail. The Grove would be an extension of the company's development of Midtown Tower.

But Glazer died in a plane crash in September.

News 8 asked Ken Glazer, who's taken over for his father, if Buckingham plans to submit a proposal for Parcel 5.

"We are still considering parcel 5 but have not yet made a final determination. We may still submit but there is also the likelihood that we will pass on this and concentrate more on Midtown and Legacy Tower," said Ken Glazer in an email. He did not respond to requests for follow-up questions.

It would not surprise Heidi Zimmer-Meyer, head of the Rochester Downtown Development Corporation, if Buckingham does not submit a proposal for Parcel 5.

"(Larry Glazer) had a vision and he was executing that vision very rapidly. I don't think (the new management) wants to over-commit. They're trying to do what they can accomplish well," said Zimmer-Meyer.

The city will get an idea of the market for the site through the RFP. It's not clear if any other developers are taking a look. News 8's request to set up an interview Wednesday or Thursday with the city's economic development commissioner has not yet been granted.

Zimmer-Meyer believes Parcel 5 is challenging because of the uncertain downtown  commercial market for both office and retail.  Any developer will have to consider the mix of uses.

"We have a lot of office space in downtown that's empty. We're seeing building after building converting to housing. The housing vacancy rate is very low. There's no questions there's a demand for urban lifestyle. The real caution is watching the commercial market," said Zimmer-Meyer.

There's a possibility the city will hold onto the property until the right use can be found. Sources say the city has also not ruled out a performing center on Parcel 5. The site has long been identified as an ideal place for a theater and the mayor has said she wants a new theater downtown.

Construction on Midtown Tower has begun. In addition, work will start soon on a new building for the Democrat and Chronicle. 

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