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Rochester

June 4, 2013

New apartment complex planned for Walnut

By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer

ROCHESTER — Approximately 50 new, loft-style apartments will soon be coming to downtown Rochester.

Rochester resident Joe Lochirco, owner of Lochirco Realty LLC, plans to build a new, six-story, 50-unit multiple family residential building at the northeast corner of Walnut Boulevard and First Street, within the Central Business District.

The top four floors of the building will have a mix of studio, one and two bedroom units, as well as a couple of three bedroom units. The bottom two floors — the lowest of which will be accessible directly from First Street — will feature parking garages for the occupants, with garage-style doors that open and close for secure access.

“One thing that was important to me was to have parking structures with doors that open and close that you could go in and out of and have a degree of security to that,” Lochirco said. “In my opinion, it’s just not a good idea to have parking garages open.”

The project, which will be built on the currently vacant land at 112 Walnut and will be called First Street Lofts, was unanimously approved by the Rochester City Council May 28.

“I think it’s a very attractive project in an area that is in need of more than a little something,” said Councilmember David Zemens.

Councilmember Cathy Daldin, who lives a couple of blocks from the project, said she “loves” the development.

“I really appreciate the fact that you came back so many times and worked with the Planning Commission and their suggestions — to me, that shows a lot. I also like the fact that it makes that corner a lot more pedestrian friendly, something that’s really important to me … it’s really going to open that up and make it easier for people to walk. There are a lot of people that walk down in that area and ride their bicycles. I also love the use of apartments in that area. I think it’s going to open up that area,” she said during the meeting.

Mayor Pro Tem Jeffrey Cuthbertson was especially pleased with the building materials — brick and cast stone block — which he said are durable and will still look good in 10-20 years.

“Thank you for being a partner in this effort. … I think you’re here with a pretty positive community project, as a result, so that’s to be commended,” he said.

Mayor Stuart Bikson is hopeful the project will help keep the downtown vibrant.

“At the Main Street Convention, one of the ways they said to keep a vibrant downtown was to have more people living downtown. This is going to bring people downtown, it’s going to bring young professionals, which is another thing that we want to keep our city vibrant.”

City Manager Jaymes Vettraino echoed Bikson’s comments, noting that one of the goals in the city’s Master Plan is to increase the number of people actually living within walking distance of downtown.

“Rochester has a nationally recognized downtown, but we don’t have a lot of residential units in our downtown area. We’re blessed that many of our single-family homes are walkable to downtown, but really we haven’t seen a lot of new apartment units built in our community. I think this 50-unit, high-quality project will certainly energize that corner of the city,” he said.

Although Lochirco has yet to submit a construction timeline to the city, he is optimistic that the building will eventually be fully occupied.

“I think this building will be fully leased, because there are so many activities to be a part of downtown,” he said, adding that the downtown events are part of what attracted him to the city.

Now that the project has been approved, Vettraino said he knows Lochirco will be working “as quickly as he can.”

“We’re hopeful that we see the building plans from him — all of the planning plans have been approved — and he’s told us he is going to get those in as soon as he can, so we’re hoping for a quick timeline,” he said.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Mary Beth Almond at malmond@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1060.