by Jeremy Moule
Developer Anthony Costello met with residents of the Upper Mt. Hope Neighborhood last night to discuss his company's CityGate project. He pitched the project as a walkable, mixed-use development that will draw on the canal front and incorporate some of the history of the Iola campus.
Costello and his son, Brett, announced new plans for the project last month, revealing that they are in talks to bring a Costco store to the CityGate project. The development, which would be located on the former Iola Campus at the intersection of East Henrietta and Westfall Roads, would include the 150,000 square foot warehouse store, apartments, retail, a satellite transit center for RGRTA, and a 150-room hotel.
The new CityGate plans need approvals from the city and the state Canal Corporation since they differ substantially from what was approved two years ago. During last night's meeting, city officials said the Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the plans at 6:30 p.m. on June 17.
About a dozen speakers questioned or commented on aspects of the proposal last night. One speaker said he's concerned the project will add significant traffic to East Henrietta-Westfall intersection, which is already congested. Others asked if the developers would request tax breaks, whether the housing would be mixed-income, what the developers would do to make the project pedestrian and bike friendly, and whether they'd consider putting recycling receptacles in the public parts of the project.
Richard Waite, a landscape architect with SWBR, said the project team was already looking into the recycling receptacles.
Anthony Costello said his ultimate goal is to create "a place to be," not unlike Park Avenue in the city or Schoen Place in Pittsford. He and his representatives said the retail, which would take the form of a street of shops, would likely be restaurants, banks, and stores. Costco would take up less than one-third of the site, Costello said. The project will have a network of wide sidewalks connecting the canal path with the development's East Henrietta Road and Westfall Road entrances.
The project will include 300 apartments near the canal. Anthony Costello said he hopes to attract employees from places like the University of Rochester and Monroe Community College as tenants.
Costello said the company will invest upward of $1.5 million — including $224,000 in state grant funds — to improve the Erie Canal path between CityGate and the Reserve, a Costello project in Brighton that's also on the canal. The company will install more than 100 lights, as well as boat launches for motorized boats and for canoes and kayaks.
As for drawing on the Iola campus's history, Costello said the plans call for keeping the Siemens building along East Henrietta Road, including its smokestack. And as crews have taken down some of the buildings they've saved "artifacts," which will be incorporated into the CityGate, Costello said. Among them are a sandstone sculpture of horses pulling a fire carriage and several concrete benches, he said. The company also hired a creative photographer who took thousands of interior and exterior photos of the Iola buildings, he said, which will be published in a book.
Dick Rowe, who owns Rowe Photo and lives in the Mt. Hope neighborhood, said that while no project is perfect, the Costellos have proven to be responsive to some concerns from the city and neighborhood. For example: they modified plans to make the East Henrietta-Westfall corner a landscaped, pedestrian-oriented entrance to the site, Rowe said.
And some of the traffic issues will be addressed by road design and construction projects under way or in the pipeline, including the Kendrick Road exit for I-390, Rowe said.
This is the CityGate layout that Anthony J. Costello and Son Development presented in May. The design has changed slightly since: