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Making the case for performing arts center at Parcel 5

Sep 19, 2017

Those behind a proposal to put a performing arts center and residential tower at Parcel 5 say it will be an economic engine for downtown.

"Years ago in Rochester, we built Midtown, and that changed for many years how people perceived downtown.  This is the next step and it's going to reinvigorate downtown Rochester,"

said Arnie Rothschild, Board Chair and CEO with the Rochester Broadway Theatre League. 

He and Morgan Communities CEO Bob Morgan outlined their plan for a new theater and residential tower at today's Rochester Rotary Club Luncheon.

Morgan said bringing a residential tower with 150 iconic-type units, will complement the proposed 3-thousand seat theater.

Bob Morgan (l) and Arnie Rothschild talk Parcel 5 at Tuesday's Rochester Rotary Club luncheon
Credit Alex Crichton

"It helps bring more money to the table.  I'm a for profit organization, so we'll be paying property taxes, where Arnie's group is non-profit, and I think we'll contribute to the cost of building his project," he said.

Rothschild says while the residential units are privately funded, the arts center is an $85 million dollar project.

"We've been meeting with all of the arts organizations, the formal ask for the state has gone in, we have been meeting quietly with a lot of major funders," he said.

Rothschild said in aggregate, they are at $65 million dollars toward the theatre.

$20 million of that is state money, but Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle has questioned using taxpayer dollars for the project.

Some other critics say a performing arts center would hurt existing venues, but Rothschild maintains that in cities where these are built, all arts organizations benefit.

"While some of the arts organizations have been critical of what we are trying to do, in every city where one of these is built, in every place that these are built, the overall arts community benefits," he said.

The plan to build a theatre still needs approval from City Council, but Rothschild feels once the state funding comes in, and Council realizes the importance of this, everything will begin to align.

Here’s the RBTL’s Rothschild making the case for a downtown theatre: