‘Rochester’s comeback’: Constellation’s move to downtown sparks economic optimism

Business

Construction on 170,000 square foot space expected to be done by 2024, nearly 400 jobs in Rochester

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Constellation Brands is moving its headquarters from Victor to downtown Rochester, and bringing hundreds of jobs with it.

Gov. Kathy Hochul traveled to Rochester Wednesday to join elected officials and business leaders to formally announce the development, although news first broke of the move Tuesday evening.

“We cannot understate the significance,” Gov. Hochul said. “People will look back on this day and say this was when Rochester’s comeback started.”

Constellation, a worldwide beverage leader, will move its primary operation, and nearly 400 jobs to the Aqueduct Building on East Broad Street in Rochester, with approximately 170,000 square feet of space.

According to the governor’s office, plans include an $82 million investment with construction and renovations on the building are tentatively scheduled to start by the middle of next year, and expected to be ready for occupancy by 2024.

“It’s been a long time coming and finally that day has arrived,” Gov. Hochul said. “To have one of the largest beverage companies in the world headquartered right here in Downtown Rochester.”

According to the governor’s office, Constellation will invest approximately $50 million to renovate five buildings on the Aqueduct campus across from the Blue Cross Arena. Purchased in March 2020, the property developers plan to invest an additional $30 million at the riverfront campus with plans for the construction of a 120-space parking structure, and qualified historic restoration of the Aqueduct buildings’ windows and other architectural features

“A move to downtown Rochester provides opportunity to recruit and attract from a broad and diverse talent pool from the region that will help us achieve our long-term business ambitions, while also contributing to the positive momentum and vibrancy growing in the city today,” said Bill Newlands, president and chief executive officer, Constellation Brands. “We look forward to continuing to foster the economic development and job creation in Rochester for years to come.”

Constellation Brands produces and markets beers and wines out of its Victor headquarters. The company has also been investing in a Canadian marijuana company called Canopy Growth for years.

“We have been a proud member of the Rochester community and surrounding area for more than 75 years, and remain committed to maintaining our presence locally,” said Rob Sands, executive chair of Constellation’s Board of Directors. “We believe this move will foster collaboration within the company and the community while contributing to Rochester’s revitalization efforts.”

Beginning in 1945 as an Upstate New York wine producer, it’s now the fastest-growing large consumer product retail goods company in the U.S. Currently headquartered locally, the global company has offices in Chicago, San Francisco, Mexico City, Napa, San Antonio, New Zealand, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Italy, Canada, and more. The Fortune 500 company is publicly traded, and reports billions of dollars in revenue each year.

Brands under the Constellation umbrella of products include: Corona Extra, Corona Light, Corona Premier, Modelo Especial, Modelo Negra, and Pacifico, plus wine and spirits brands including the Robert Mondavi brand family, Kim Crawford, Meiomi, The Prisoner brand family, SVEDKA Vodka, Casa Noble Tequila, and High West Whiskey.

Constellation officials say the move to this location is one of the major cornerstone projects of the ROC the Riverway program which consolidates more than two dozen transformational projects along the Genesee River to “restore and contemporize Rochester’s riverfront as a destination hub for entertainment, businesses, and outdoor recreation.”

As part of the ROC the Riverway’s Aqueduct Reimagined project, adjacent to the new headquarters campus, the state will invest up to $9 million to facilitate infrastructure upgrades. Additionally, according to the governor’s office:

“The City of Rochester will receive a $5 million Upstate Revitalization Initiative grant for the public infrastructure improvements to begin the initial construction phase of the Aqueduct Reimagined project. Empire State Development is also providing up to $4 million to Constellation Brands through the Excelsior Jobs Tax Credit program in exchange for job creation commitments. Monroe County, Rochester Gas & Electric, The Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and Greater Rochester Enterprise are also assisting with the transformative project.

“Constellation has a long history of supporting the community as evidenced by the Sands family and Constellation Brands’ generous contributions to local hospitals, theaters, and non-profit organizations,” said Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren. “We are excited to have Constellation Brands call downtown home and look forward to the prosperity the company and its employees will bring to this central location of the city.”

“By moving their global headquarters to Rochester, Constellation Brands recognizes the benefits of doing business in Monroe County and the opportunities we offer to innovate, grow and recruit new talent,” said Monroe County Executive Adam Bello. “This is a tremendous win for our economy. Constellation and the Sands family have a long history as a positive force in our community and I welcome the company to the Aqueduct Building as we look forward to the continued transformation of downtown through the ROC the Riverway initiative.”

“Constellation Brands is popping the cork on a new era in downtown Rochester’s development with its decision to add jobs and expand in the City of Rochester,” said U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “The historic Aqueduct campus that once overlooked the spot that gave rise to the Flour City – the intersection of the historic Erie Canal at the Genesee River – is now at the heart of downtown’s Innovation Zone and will once again be a growth driver thanks to Constellation Brand’s investment.  I applaud Constellation, Governor Hochul, and everyone who contributed to bring this development to fruition.”

“Constellation Brands is a global leader in the beverage industry and I am proud to welcome the company to City of Rochester,” said U.S. Sen. Kristin Gillibrand. “This relocation will revitalize the city center by investing millions into the local economy, creating more than 80 new jobs and shifting 340 more to this location. I will continue fighting for investments that draw world-class corporations to New York and help Rochester continue to grow and thrive.”

“Today marks an exciting step forward in our work to revitalize Rochester’s downtown corridor and strengthen our regional economy,” said Rep. Joe Morelle. “Not only will this project bring new jobs to our community, but as part of the ROC the Riverway initiative, it will also breathe new life into the area around our historic waterfront area. I am grateful to Governor Hochul for her dedication to creating economic opportunity and I thank Constellation for their continued commitment to investing in the future of the Rochester community.”

“This is monumental! The relocation of Constellation Brands to downtown Rochester is symbolic of renewed energy along our urban Genesee Riverway,” said State Sen. Jeremy Cooney. “We thank Governor Hochul and Constellation Brands for believing in our center city and for helping to create a more vibrant place to work.”

“The Rochester downtown district has chalked up a big win today,” said State Assemblymember Harry Bronson. “The revitalization of downtown is gaining momentum thanks to Governor Hochul, our local economic development team and government partners. We all have watched Constellation Brands grow at a rapid pace over the years into the CPG powerhouse it has become. More jobs, more investment and more commitment equal more opportunity for the people of Rochester. Having a global business leader establish its world headquarters in the historic Aqueduct Building helps elevate our great city as a thriving economic engine in New York State.”

What’s next for Victor and Ontario County?

While a celebratory development for downtown Rochester, folks in Victor are left wondering “what’s next?”

Constellation officials say the business will continue to have a “significant presence” in Ontario County, where the company was founded. They say the company will retain its offices in Canandaigua, which employs approximately 200 employees and is a home to the company’s finance, IT, facilities, transportation, insights, and analytics departments.

For Victor Town Supervisor Jack Marren, he summed up the move in two words, “disappointed” and “surprised.” He says this is going to be a big hit, and not just for Victor, but for Ontario County as a whole. He says Constellation’s change will be a direct economic for the drain, but will also have a secondary economic impact.

Marren says there will be 350 less workers getting gas, grabbing coffee, eating lunch, or going to Eastview Mall in Victor. Marren says he spoke with developers about expanding Constellation’s operations at the current sight before the pandemic hit. He said, in his words, it would “really make” Victor their corporate headquarters with individuals from Chicago and California coming to the town.

However, the pandemic shelved a lot of those plans and Constellation was slow to return to the table, as leadership in the company also shifted.

The announcement on the move to Rochester caught Marren off guard, but he says at the end of the day he’s still forever grateful for the Sands family and the work they have done to benefit the region, adding that it was simply a business decision and he can respect that.

The good news for Victor, according to Marren, is that Constellation isn’t leaving right away, so there is still time to adjust.

“So actually, they still have a lease obligation up until 2024, so we have them for two more years,” Marren told News 8 Wednesday. “I did speak to Fred Rinaldi Jr. and he assured me that he and his uncle and his father will continue to work, and they will come up with a ‘Class A’ new company that we will be introducing, certainly within the next couple of years.”


Watch the full announcement

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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