Dawson Company tapped as Bull’s Head developer
City of Rochester officials have selected The Dawson Company of Atlanta, Georgia to serve as the prime developer for the planned Bull’s Head revitalization project.
The 12-acre plot located at the crossroads of Brown Road, Genesee, and West Main Streets was, at one point in time, a thriving commercial hub. But those days have long since passed. Today, vacant buildings outnumber businesses in the Bull’s Head neighborhood, and while city administrations have for about 20 years attempted to breathe new life into the area, little progress has been made.
Under the administration of Mayor Lovely Warren, the city acquired the parcels that make up the 12-acre development site, as well as Bull’s Head Plaza on the corner of Genesee and West Main streets. The undertaking cost about $11 million. Warren, at a news conference Thursday, stated the goal of the development is to bring the neighborhood back to its former glory.
“(Dawson) are dedicated to reversing the red-lining, the disinvestment, and neglect of our neighborhood,” Warren said. “The Dawson team is clearly motivated to succeed in Bull’s Head.”
Dawson was said by Warren to be the first Black-owned company to receive a development contract in the city of Rochester. The company was tapped through a competitive bidding process, and most recently served as a developer on two large projects in Pensacola, Florida: a $16.5 million maritime park and a $16 million downtown YMCA facility.
“Each project is different. Each project, each neighborhood, each community has different needs and we’re seeking to listen to the neighborhoods to understand what’s needed and where we can bring our capabilities to build something special,” said Dennis Pemberton, executive managing director for the Dawson Company.
Dawson will be working alongside Chicago’s Brinshore Development, Philadelphia’s Shift Capital, and Rochester’s USC on the Bull’s Head project. Additionally, the national non-profit Urban Land Institute, which held a panel discussion on Bull’s Head earlier Thursday, will be providing recommendations to the city.
The Urban Land Institute provided several recommendations for Bull’s Head, ranging from making the area more walkable and bikeable to focusing on expansion surrounding key stakeholders, like St. Mary’s Hospital, a Rochester Regional Health facility on Genesee Street.
But some key details of the Bull’s Head redevelopment project remain uncertain. Dana Miller, the city’s director of business and housing development, estimated the city is still about a year and a half out from the groundbreaking. City officials were also unable to provide a cost estimate for the project, nor did they specify what exact amenities would be built, aside from housing.
The city has received a total of $1.2 million in Environmental Protection Agency grants for cleanup of the area.
“We expect to bring back significantly more housing,” Miller said. “Some will be affordable, and some may even be market rate. To support the additional residents that will come with that housing, we also expect to bring back a significant amount of retail.”
When asked if the project is being planned as a housing development, Warren stressed that it will be a “mixed-use” space.
“The discussion with the community is very important for what goes here, but also so they can move and live here first,” Warren said.
Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or firstname.lastname@example.org.