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Rochester garage sales continue as High Falls and Genesee Crossroads put on the market

Looking up at High Falls Garage, the name is in silver letters on a brick structure marking the entrance to the 750-space facility.
Max Schulte
The city is seeking buyers for High Falls Garage as well as Genesee Crossroads garage as it continues to unload the aging structures.

The city of Rochester is seeking to sell the Genesee Crossroads and High Falls garages. The move comes as part of a broader trend of the city offloading its stock of garages.

Both garages have a minimum sale price of about $2 million. As part of the purchase, the new buyer is required to keep the current parking fees the same until 2026, unless the city increases fees at its own garages.

Last year the city sold the Mortimer Street, East End, Court Street, and Washington Square garages. City spokesperson Barbara Pierce said the city wants to hand off the aging fixtures to businesses better equipped to manage the properties.

With the sale of High Falls and Genesee Crossroads, only two city-owned garages remain: the South Avenue Garage and Sister Cities Garage on North Fitzhugh Street, across from City Hall.

The city sold the Court Street and Washington Square garages to Boston-based LAZ Parking Realty Investors, LLC for $5.6 million and $2.2 million, respectively, plus an additional $1 million as part of the deal.

Meanwhile, Cox Rochester, LLC, based in suburban Syracuse, purchased the Mortimer Street Garage for $2.5 million. And the University of Rochester bought the East End Garage for $4.4 million. The East End Garage was approved for sale by the Rochester City Council in July, while the remaining three were approved in August. A similar stipulation to the Genesee Crossroads Garage request for proposals required the three buyers to keep parking fees stagnant through 2025.

The city has struggled with upkeep of High Falls Garage, which sits adjacent to WXXI's offices on State Street. The upper levels are fenced off — reflecting a problem with high vacancy that persists, post-pandemic, throughout the city garages.

The worry is about now and what's to come with estimates that upwards of 31 percent of downtown office space is vacant — and what is rented is likely to downsize with employees working from home.

Genesee Crossroads Garage sits beneath Charles Carroll Plaza, with its roof serving as the urban park’s foundation. The plaza and garage are currently the subject of a $26 million renovation, which includes waterproofing, repair to the roof slab, and renovations to the plaza.

In 2018, the project received $20 million in state funding as part of the ROC the Riverway riverfront revitalization initiative.

Proposals for the High Falls Garage’s purchase are due April 15. The Genesee Crossroads Garage’s proposals are due by April 22.

Gino Fanelli is an investigative reporter who also covers City Hall. He joined the staff in 2019 by way of the Rochester Business Journal, and formerly served as a watchdog reporter for Gannett in Maryland and a stringer for the Associated Press.