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News Briefs 2.5.03

Movin' on up

Sure, the economy is faltering. But that hasn't quelled the demand for high-end downtown housing. The latest big project to be announced is undoubtedly the most elegant yet. The 107,000-square-foot Sagamore on East (130-160 East Avenue) will be ready for occupancy in late summer/fall of 2004. Built by Christa Development Corp. and designed by Macon Chaintreuil Jensen & Stark Architects (both local firms), The Sagamore will occupy the parking lot in front of the East End parking garage on East Avenue between Swan and Scio.

            The Sagamore vitals: brick-and-limestone construction in a neo-classical style; seven stories; retail and office space (with a full-time concierge) on floors one and two; 23 luxury condominiums (2,500-3,300 square feet) on the Terrace, Tower, and Penthouse floors; a private back entrance to the East End Garage; two parking spaces for each unit. Residential pricing is expected to begin at $350,000 for the Terrace level, and $600,000 for penthouses. Gar Lowenguth is the Re/Max real estate broker for The Sagamore.

            This section of East Avenue, known technically as Block L, is owned by the Cultural Center Commission, which had been trying for nearly three years to find a developer for a mixed-use project to front the East End garage. So a collective sigh of relief could be heard around City Hall the morning of February 11, when the Commission finally approved a contract for sale of the property to Sagamore on East, LLC. The deal also comes with a $1.5 million loan from the Commission's East End Garage Reserve fund to Sagamore on East, LLC. The loan still must be approved by City Council and the County Legislature. But lej prez Dennis Pelletier, who is also a member of the commission, says, "The legislature stands ready to approve this project."

Play ball

The Rochester Hispanic Youth Baseball League (RHYBL), founded eight seasons ago by Group 14621 Neighborhood Planner Eugenio Cotto Jr., is gearing up its next season by holding open registration sessions for kids ages six to 15. The first takes place on Saturday, February 22, at Holy Redeemer St. Francis Xavier, 34 Teresa Street. Another session is scheduled for Saturday, March 22, at 630 North Clinton Avenue.

            In other RHYBL news, Cotto told Ink that he is trying to procure funding from a variety of sources, including the City of Rochester and Baseball Tomorrow, to turn Don Samuel Torres Park --- the site on Wilkins Street, between Hudson and Joseph, where the league holds its games --- into a bonafide ballpark complete with concessions, bathrooms, lights, and a fence. He estimates the project would cost roughly $140,000. For all info on RHYBL, contact Cotto at

Henrietta in a state

Henrietta recently made headlines for a new idea: a "town center" near East Henrietta and Calkins roads. This area, which now contains the town hall, library, and a public park, is already central to town functions. But as Henrietta's Comprehensive Land Use Plan gets updated, town leaders want to create a walkable "village" atmosphere there. But other players are making moves. Wegmans Inc., which already has a store around the corner, has proposed building a replacement store near the Monroe County fairgrounds, i.e. close by the future "town center." And fairground officials are making their own plans. All the plans will have to interlock somehow. In any case, says town board member Catherine McCabe, the comprehensive plan will be up for acceptance at a February 19 board meeting or shortly thereafter.

            On January 29, Henrietta supervisor James Breese delivered a "State of the Town" speech at a (pricey) luncheon sponsored by the Henrietta Commerce Network. Deriding "the same old naysayers," Breese listed various accomplishments, including the filling of vacant commercial space with new tenants. For example, he said Raymour & Flanigan Furniture is "filling the empty 114,000-square-foot former Builder's Square building" off Jay Scutti Boulevard. He said, too, that "Wal-Mart loves Henrietta," an affection to be expressed through a new 85,000-square-foot grocery store.

            Breese bragged that Henrietta's "new housing market... has improved over previous years," with 167 new-home building permits issued in 2002. He also said Henrietta "is receptive to open-space preservation in many ways," like parkland acquisition. He sought to cap one controversy: "After three years of frustrating and shameful delay," he said, "the town is poised to sell the Riverton golf course to a private operator" and use the proceeds to buy "additional parkland."

            "We've got to be aggressive about preservation," responds Rachel Warren of Henrietta Neighbors United (and one of the "naysayers," presumably). "I would hope we seek every avenue to help farmers keep in business," she says, mentioning assistance like grants, easements, and land trusts.

            "We think that [the town center idea] is very important to the image of the town," says Warren. "It could be beautifully done." But she notes a downside to re-filling some commercial space: Raymour & Flanigan, for example, will vacate a store on Jefferson Road when moving to Builder's Square.

            Warren also thinks it's odd that Supervisor Breese delivered his State of the Town address at a private affair. "You have to pay $15 and go to lunch on a workday," she says. Town board member McCabe counters: "[Citizens] could have sat in the back of the room" to hear the speech, which was given after lunch.

Webster plot in question

Webster townspeople will soon have a chance to preserve a little corner of beauty. On March 25, a town referendum is scheduled (hours of voting TBA) on a single ballot question: whether to spend $1 million or so for four-plus acres at the juncture of Irondequoit Bay and Lake Ontario.

            Town commissioner of public works Gary Kleist says the land lies next to the Hojack railroad right-of-way, which now carries a public trail rather than trains. The land now is zoned for "waterfront development," says Kleist, and in fact there's a proposal pending to build a hotel and restaurant there. "We're not talking a high-rise but a condominium-style" two-story structure, he says.

            Local environmental groups have catalogued the bay and lakeshore as "environmentally sensitive areas" but have been overdeveloped regardless. So the Webster referendum is critical in its own way.

Sexual healing

The Judicial Process Commission is never one to sidestep controversy. And two upcoming JPC-sponsored events show it.

            First comes the group's annual meeting and luncheon --- noon Monday, February 17, Downtown United Presbyterian Church, 121 North Fitzhugh Street. The event, titled "Yes, Sex-Offender Therapy Treatment Does Work," will feature two experts on the field. Dr. Fred S. Berlin founded the Johns Hopkins Sexual Disorder Clinic and now is a professor in the Johns Hopkins University medical school. The other speaker is a former sex offender: J. Wayne Bowers, now director of Sex Offenders Restored Through Therapy, part of a larger national group that pushes criminal justice reform. The luncheon costs $20 ($5 for brownbaggers), and "scholarships" are available. Call 325-7727 for reservations and information

            Berlin and Bowers also will give a free public talk that same day, 7 p.m., at Rochester Institute of Technology's Chester Carlson Building, Room 1250. (For a primer on the issue, see our 10/17/2001 cover story: "Sex Offenders: Residence, Regulation, Rights, and the Registry." It's not archived on our website, unfortunately, but a copy can easily be e-mailed.)

Land locked in

Not far from the City of Rochester-owned Hemlock-Canadice lakes watershed, the Finger Lakes Land Trust has had another success.

            The Trust, based in Ithaca, recently announced the acquisition of a protective conservation easement on 434 acres of forest and farmland, ponds and wetlands in the town of Springwater. Under the terms of the easement, the property owners, John and Carol Krebs, have donated the development rights to the Trust. According to a news release, the easement will allow farming and timber management to go on, monitored by volunteers from the Trust's Western Lakes Chapter.

            With this transaction, says the news release, the Trust has just under 7,000 acres under its protection in our 12-county region.