ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — From the front of The Strong Museum of Play, it may be hard to tell… But behind the parking garage, at the corner of Adventure Place and Manhattan Square Drive, construction is well underway for The Strong’s massive expansion.
They broke ground on the expansion in 2021, and the CEO of The Strong, Steve Dubnik, says they are on time to be finished by their original deadline of mid-2023.
“By this time next year, we’ll be done, people will be in the new spaces, and having the time of their lives,” Dubnik said, as he was standing in what will become an outdoor exhibit on the history of play.
Dubink says that The Strong originally wanted to start expansion to better serve its mission — preserving the history of play, and celebrating and studying the impact of play on society, the individual, and the culture” Dubnik said — to expand its visitorship capacity.
The Strong says in 2019, they hit 600,000 visitors. But by the middle of the decade, between the expanded “Neighborhood of Play,” as well as increased marketing efforts to bring visitors from outside of Rochester, The Strong is looking to hit 1 million visitors per year.
The 90,000 square foot expansion — which will increase the square footage of The Strong to 375,000 sq. feet — will add two new first-floor entrances, one for groups and the other will lead from the parking garage, into a new atrium. There will also be a new food court.
But mainly, the expansion will add two exhibits that will fill the second floor, both on video games. The “High Score” exhibit will house the World Video game hall of fame, and to celebrate the people who make the games. The second exhibit is called “Level Up,” and will feature one immersive video game space.
“You will be able to go in, you’ll get an RFID bracelet, and interact with different games across the space, and get achievements,” Dubnik said.
The Neighborhood of Play
But the building expansion is one part of the puzzle. It may be the last to be completed, but it is nestled in the new “Neighborhood of Play.”
The new neighborhood is in the filled-in Inner Loop East. The new housing in that area, according to Dubnik, is now fully occupied. A hotel that is going up across the street is scheduled to be completed early 2023. Nerdvana and Nine Spot Brewing are also nearly completed.
Dubnik says that these new businesses, as well The Strong Expansion will create 140 jobs. Previously, The Strong said this project will result in an annual economic impact of $130 million.
The street the “Vida” complex is on, Adventure Place, will also have a separate bus loop to help alleviate any possible traffic issues.