ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Kathy Hochul delivered the 2022 State of the State address Wednesday and several Rochester-based projects were announced; some as new and others as ongoing developments.

Inner Loop North

According to the governor, the Inner Loop North project will build upon the city’s success of the Inner Loop East project, which raised and reconnected a below-grade expressway into an at ground boulevard. The East project freed approximately six acres of land for new development, and enhanced pedestrian and bicyclist safety and mobility, while removing a physical barrier to Downtown Rochester. Gov. Hochul said.

City officials say filling in the eastern portion of the Inner Loop, with $22 million of public funding, helped generate more than $230 million in private investment, including housing, retail, and an expansion to the Strong National Museum of Play. Officials say that success can be replicated as they turn their focus north.

The governor says raising the Inner Loop North, which the New York State Department of Transportation is partnering with the City of Rochester on, will “fully reconnect severed communities within Downtown Rochester, provide direct links to the Genesee River and the High Falls District, and expand upon the investments of the ROC the Riverway program.” Speaking of which …

ROC the Riverway: Phase Two

The governor described ROC the Riverway as a “comprehensive initiative to revitalize the Genesee
River corridor in downtown Rochester,” with a goal of spurring investment, attracting businesses, and increasing quality of life with “lively public spaces and active waterside walking-cycling routes for the local community.”

Phase One of the project, which began in 2018, included 13 projects and Phase Two will focus on the following:

  • Rochester High Falls State Park: The governor says this project will crate a new state park in Downtown Rochester. At High Falls, and mostly within the Genesee River gorge, the governor says this area has been restricted from public access for generations. She said the new park will have a phased reopening over the next five years following renovations of various parcels of land.
  • Rochester Riverside Hotel & Convention Center Expansion: According to the governor, this project will include the reopening of the former Riverside Hotel on Main Street as a renovated mixed-use facility that will include updated meeting space to be operated by, and attached to, the adjacent Rochester Riverside Convention Center.
  • High Falls Visitor Center: The governor said $2.5 million in state funding to help the City of Rochester retain ownership of the historic Rochester Water Works building at High Falls and renovate it as an improved public visitor center that could ultimately allow elevator access to the river gorge level and benefit the aforementioned High Falls State Park.
  • Aqueduct Reimagined: The governor said this is the largest ROC the Riverway project, which envisions a central gathering space for the entire community. Funding includes the originally announced $4.5 million committed in Phase One, plus an additional $5 million for Phase Two. The governor said this will develop in tandem with the construction of the new Constellation Brands headquarters, which announced a relocation to downtown back in September 2021.
  • Rochester Downtown Partnership: The governor announced this new public-private entity (RDP), that launched last month as a management group for public waterfront spaces. State officials say the RDP was recommended by the community advisory board that helped the ROC the Riverway Vision Plan. The governor said the RDP, in partnership with City Council, property owners, residents and stakeholders, to create a new “business improvement district” for Downtown Rochester.

Along with the ROC the Riverway improvements, the governor also announced that the Broad Street Bridge in Downtown Rochester was targeted as one of the sites statewide designated for infrastructure improvements or renovations.

Other topics the governor mentioned with wide-ranging statewide potential that could impact the Rochester region include doubling the state police partnership with local law enforcement, addressing gun violence from the state level, expanding health care access while retaining current health care employees, and increasing housing stability.

Senator Jeremy Cooney (D-56th) says he’s thrilled the Governor is committed to investment and infrastructure right here. 

“We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to invest in our infrastructure, and cities like Rochester, while at the same time, creating good-paying jobs for our community. So when I heard the governor say that’s she’s all in, and she’s going to take full advantage of the federal funds to that have been passed already, I want to make sure those dollars go right into our community,” says Cooney.

2022 State of the State

Statement from Rochester Mayor Malik Evans

I was thrilled to hear that Governor Hochul will support the next phase of Rochester’s “ROC the Riverway” initiative as part of her New Era for New York agenda. This includes exciting plans to create a Rochester High Falls State Park, revitalize the former Riverside Hotel, update the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center, and renovate the High Falls Visitor Center.

All of these projects are central to the revitalization of our waterfront and our Downtown. “ROC the Riverway” is a product of our strong state and local partnership which improves the quality of life of our residents and makes Rochester an attractive destination for visitors.

On behalf of the entire Rochester community, we express our sincere gratitude to the Governor. We look forward to furthering our commitment and collaboration to make Rochester a thriving city with an exciting future.

Watch the full Press Conference here:

Watch Adam Chodak’s interview with Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin: