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Drive-throughs proposed for CityGate

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A proposal to add two drive-throughs to the CityGate project in the southern edge of the City of Rochester is adding to complaints that the $200 million canal-front development is too suburban in layout and design. The City Planning Commission will consider the application for the drive-throughs at a meeting on Monday, March 10.

CityGate is a 45-acre project that will include a hotel, 300-unit apartment complex, a Costco store and other retail, and office space at the intersection of East Henrietta and Westfall Roads. No one from Anthony J. Costello and Son, CityGate's developer, was available to comment on this story.

There doesn't appear to be organized opposition to the project, and CityGate has the enthusiastic endorsement of the Upper Mount Hope Neighborhood Association.

"The neighborhood, we're all excited about this," says Dan Hurley, the group's president. Hurley says the developer has repeatedly reached out to the neighborhood, the business association, "anybody and everybody, to let them know step by step, detail by detail, what [its] plans are."

The attacks on the project seem to be coming mostly from social media. Comments on one site, for example, refer to CityGate as a "suburban-style nightmare," and say the project is not connected to the larger neighborhood.

Mitch Rowe, the city's director of planning and zoning, says that there will be pedestrian routes throughout the site and that the drive-throughs would be screened. Developer Anthony Costello has said in the past that his aim is to make CityGate a destination akin to Park Avenue in the city or Schoen Place in Pittsford. The project's retail component would take the form of a street of shops, Costello said. And Hurley says the design concepts he's seen feature brick and stone exteriors.

"So I think there are a lot of positive aspects," Rowe says. "I can appreciate people's concerns about drive-throughs and a larger retailer [Costco], but on balance, everybody who's been involved in reviewing and approving this thinks it's a great project."

CityGate also represents a significant investment in the city, he says.

Costello hasn't named prospective tenants for CityGate beyond Costco, but city documents say the drive-throughs would be for a food operation and a retail operation in the northwest corner of the project. The drive-throughs have permission to operate from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m.

The City Planning Commission meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, March 10, in City Council chambers at City Hall, 30 Church Street. Commission members will hold a staff meeting prior to the meeting, at 5:30 p.m., in conference room 223B at City Hall. Both meetings are open to the public.

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