Legacy Tower Chosen For The Photonics HQ; But Some Officials Say It's Not A Done Deal

Aug 17, 2015

Credit B&L photo

After local leaders went back and forth over where the new headquarters for the phontonics institute would be located, officials have announced that Legacy Tower, the former Bausch+Lomb building, has won out. But some local leaders are saying that announcement Monday night doesn't mean this is a done deal.

In the last week, a group of local business leaders including  Rochester Business Alliance President Bob Duffy said they favored Legacy Tower as the location because they felt it would require less renovation than the other site being talked about, the Sibley Building.

Then, a day later, a statement that included Wegmans CEO Danny Wegman and U of R President Joel Seligman, who lead the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, said that they felt Sibley was still the best spot. Congresswoman Louise Slaughter and Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle also signed onto that statement.

But on Monday evening, a statement from SUNY Polytechnic, which is helping oversee this project, along with the ‘ Rochester Business Leaders Photonics Working Group’ announced that they have selected Legacy Tower.

“In support of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s innovation-driven economic growth strategy and vision to establish Rochester as the global center of photonics research, SUNY Poly in partnership with the region’s business leaders sought a headquarters location that would not only meet the direct needs of the institute but would contribute to the city’s downtown renewal, and the Legacy Tower was the resoundingly consensus choice,” said Michael Liehr, CEO of AIM photonics.

The statement says that Legacy Tower has many advantages including the fact it can be ready within 30 days of a final agreement, and also they say it requires no lengthy or costly rehabilitation work.

Officials say initially the photonics institute will occupy approximately 25,000 square feet to support its business outreach, workforce training, back office operations and business accelerator/incubator. 

The statement says that it's anticipated companies associated with the photonics initiative will seek space across the region including at Sibley, Eastman Business Park, Canal Ponds and in Canandaigua.

Three local leaders, University of Rochester Joel Seligman, Wegmans CEO Danny Wegman and Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle issued a statement indicating this selection process may not be over:

“Despite press reports to the contrary, no decision has been finalized on a new downtown headquarters for AIM Photonics. We welcome SUNY Polytechnic’s interest in locating a headquarters downtown and we thank them for their recommendation, which we will take under advisement. The Rochester leadership, in conjunction with Governor Cuomo, will make the final decision on where to locate the appropriate photonics facilities in our community,” said a statement from the three officials on Monday night.

RBA leader Bob Duffy issued a statement Monday night saying that, “The business community has said from the beginning of the process to find a headquarters for AIM Photonics that Legacy Tower is the most appropriate choice. While there were differing opinions on the placement of the headquarters, the most important thing that all parties agree upon is that it belongs in downtown Rochester."

Mayor Lovely Warren said that “My biggest priority continues to be job creation and locating the photonics headquarters downtown will definitely help accomplish that. Ensuring that this important facility is in our Center City is what's most important because it will mean more job opportunities for our residents, which will further strengthen all of our city's neighborhoods in the process.”

Last week, Ken Glazer, managing partner of Buckingham Properties which owns Legacy along with Morgan Management, told WXXI News that even if the photonics headquarters didn’t end up at his building he would be happy just to see it located downtown because of the economic benefits it would bring to the area.

Glazer is also an honorary co-chair of WXXI's 'Go Public' fundraising campaign.