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City seeks developer to lead Bull's Head effort

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Longtime Rochesterians may recall an area of the city known as Bull’s Head — a spot where six streets including West Main Street and Chili Avenue meet near the old St. Mary Hospital on the city’s west side.
The city purchased Bull's Head Plaza to have better control over its redevelopment. - FILE PHOTO
  • FILE PHOTO
  • The city purchased Bull's Head Plaza to have better control over its redevelopment.


City officials have been working on a plan to revitalize the area for more than a decade and they are now taking the next step in the process. They recently issued a request for qualifications seeking a firm to develop roughly 12 acres of property that the city is acquiring and cleaning up.

“It is an area that has been historically a very important center for commerce, but over time because of suburban sprawl and its effect, it's been impacted very severely,” said Dana Miller, the city's director of business and housing development.

The city has been slowly acquiring nearly every property around Bull's Head, spending around $10 million over a decade to acquire about 12 acres of land.

Bull's Head has a history that goes back to at least the 1860's, when there was a cattle market and a bull's head was hung over its front door, according to the city. More recently, the area was home to one of the first Wegmans, and many small businesses. It was a thriving area up until about the 1950's.

To revitalize Bull's Head, the city must first find a developer to figure out what the area could be. The city would like to have a developer on by year's end so that planning can start, Miller said. He added that the city has been talking with people in the neighborhood for several years about what should be developed there.
“And overwhelmingly what the community wants is some retail, some business use, and some housing, and we do anticipate a substantial number of housing units,” said Miller



Miller said he doesn’t expect houses to be a part of the property, instead he expects higher density housing like apartment buildings, as well as retail and other commercial development to be built in the area.

One thing Miller said is a must is a clean-up. He said some of the old properties were gas stations, auto mechanics, and dry cleaners. Those businesses can leave lasting marks on the surrounding environment.
Bull's Head and the surrounding properties are part of the state's brownfield opportunity area program, which makes certain planning and development work eligible for grant money and other resources. There's also federal funding available for the clean-up, Miller said.
More information on the request for qualifications is available at cityofrochester.gov/bullsheadrfq2020/. The city’s deadline for submissions is September 28.

James Brown is a reporter for WXXI News, a media partner of CITY, and can be reached at jbrown@wxxi.org. Randy Gorbman is the news director at WXXI News, and can be reached at rgorbman@wxxi.org.