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East Main revival


This is a corrected version of this story.

Two developers are interested in reinventing a couple of important Rochester landmarks — although one project is further along than the other.

The former Corpus Christi School and the former Eastman Dental Dispensary are both on East Main Street in northeast Rochester. Both are vacant, and the dental dispensary was recently named to the Landmark Society's "Five to Revive" list of priority sites for revitalization.

Current plans are to turn the school into a 42-unit housing project for musicians and artists. But Carol Wheeler, the City of Rochester's housing manager, cautions that the proposal is still in the early stages and plans could change.

The musicians-artists theme would mesh well with that area of East Main, Wheeler says, which also has the armory, Auditorium Theatre, Blackfriars, and is not far from the Art Walk project.

"It just goes so well," Wheeler says. "And that's what we're attempting to do in everything — to build on the assets that we have, as opposed to trying to create something that's kind of an island."

The $9 million project has already received state funding. And Wheeler says that ideally, work on the site should begin before the end of the year.

Wheeler says that the dental dispensary could possibly be turned into a mixed-income, live-work space.

"We are negotiating — seeing exactly what would be the best use for that building," she says. "It's a great building, but it has a lot of challenges, as well."

The projects are part of a system where the City of Rochester seeks out proposals for rental projects that will eventually go to the state for possible funding. City officials evaluate and score the proposals, and determine what level of assistance they can give each project. Officials say the process helps find the best projects, and increases those projects' chances of getting state money.

"Development is not simple," Wheeler says. "There's a lot of competition when it comes to applying for city and state funds, so you want those projects that are as close to being ready as possible."