It’s all about the pay-offs and the politics, who pays off the dems to do business in Rochester and surrounding areas….
Since 2010, MCC has considered several sites, but finally narrowed the choice to two: buying the Sibley Building and taking up more space than the 200,000 square feet it occupies on two floors, or buying the buildings offered by Kodak, which have 560,000 square feet in five buildings that appear as one structure from the outside and are south of Kodak’s 19-story tower.
The new location would provide an enclosed, safer environment for students and give the downtown campus room to grow by about 30 percent from its current enrollment of 2,900 students, Kress said. It would include 400 parking spaces in a Kodak lot across Plymouth Avenue from Frontier Field. [the downtown location has no parking]
MCC President Anne Kress said the board had to consider many factors, including student safety. Students have complained of security issues at the Sibley Building, including people who are not students smoking marijuana outside the building, blocking doorways and groping female students. [democrats answer? spend more $$ the county doesn’t have! “Richards had pledged to have a permanent police substation in the building”]
The 10-0 vote by the trustees took less than three minutes in a public meeting that was convened after the trustees had met in executive session for an hour.
MCC has been looking for a new campus since 2001.
Republicans hold a majority in the legislature and will control 18 seats beginning in January. But because the sale of bonds requires at least 20 votes, two Democrats would have to vote in favor of the plan.
Legislator Ted O’Brien, Democratic leader, said Democrats believe the Sibley Building is the best site and are unlikely to support the sale of bonds to buy the Kodak buildings.
MCC pays $3.1 million a year to lease its space at the Sibley Building.
The building is owned by RochWil Associates, a subsidiary of Wilmorite Inc., whose executives are major contributors to Democratic causes. As of June, RochWil Associates was delinquent on more than $21 million in tax-related payments and loans.
One drawback of staying in the Sibley Building is that Winn Development, a Boston-based developer slated to take over the building from RochWil, would own the building for eight years to take advantage of tax breaks, then sell it to MCC, Kress said. RochWil wants to renovate the building and the adjoining Sibley Tower office building for residential and retail space.
The college, however, wanted to take ownership of the Sibley Building sooner to avoid paying rent because its reimbursement rate for rent from the state is shrinking as the state encourages community colleges to own its buildings, instead of renting. Continuing to pay rent would be costlier to taxpayers, Kress said.
Chris Fleming, project manager for Winn Development, said he’s disappointed by the trustees’ decision.
Yale Seils, 33, an engineering student from Rochester, said he was asked by several female students to accompany them on a shuttle that takes students from the main campus to the downtown campus because they had problems with being groped outside the building. “People are always getting harassed by the same people,” he said.
1962: MCC opens its main campus at 410 Alexander St.
1968: Main campus moves to 1000 East Henrietta Road, Brighton.
1992: Downtown campus opens in rented space on the fourth and fifth floors of the Sibley Building.
March 2001: A $60 million, four-story training center downtown is planned for technical instruction in software, telecommunications, optics and biotechnology. Funding for the project never materializes.
January 2004: New downtown campus, with a $72 million price tag, is proposed as part of the $230 million Renaissance Square, with a transit center and performing arts center, along East Main Street between North Clinton Avenue and St. Paul Street.
Summer 2009: Renaissance Square project falls apart; insufficient funds for the performing arts center are a major factor.
December 2009: MCC board of trustees approves criteria for a new downtown campus; “center city” parcel would have at least three or four acres, with vacant land or shovel-ready sites given priority.
February 2010: Boston firm Cecil Group Inc. is hired to help select possible sites for a new downtown campus. MCC approves hiring the firm for $74,800; $16,882 is later authorized for additional work.
March 2010: MCC officials receive Cecil Group’s list of 18 possible sites in or just outside the Inner Loop; list is not made public.
July 2010: Three sites emerge on the short list: part of a seven-acre parking lot owned by Eastman Kodak Co., near its headquarters; part of the former Midtown Plaza plot that the city is redeveloping; and a cluster of parcels, including parking lots, by the former St. Joseph’s Church at Franklin and Pleasant streets.
August 2010: MCC President Anne Kress says she expects that the site will be selected by the end of 2010.
October 2010: The Bausch + Lomb building is added to the mix of possible sites.
December 2010: Search shifts to existing buildings — including the Sibley Building, where the downtown campus is currently located.
January 2011: Kress says the new campus can be an important part of downtown’s revitalization and that a decision will likely be made “before there is no more snow on the ground.”
Winter 2011: MCC approaches Kodak officials about buying part of its headquarters for the campus.
June 2011: MCC trustee John Parrinello walks out of executive session, saying that the trustees should hear from officials of the sites being considered, rather than rely on presentation by MCC officials.
October 2011: Representatives of Winn Development, a Boston-based firm with an option to buy the Sibley Building, makes presentation to county and city officials about keeping the campus in this building.
November 2011: Trustees’ special meeting is canceled after a committee discusses downtown sites in executive session earlier in the week.
Dec. 1 and 2: Kodak officials give tour to media and then to MCC trustees of the complex of buildings for sale at its headquarters.
Monday: Mayor Thomas Richards attends trustees meeting and in executive session makes his case for the Sibley Building.
Wednesday: Special meeting of the trustees is called for Saturday. Trustee Chairman Kenneth Goode says a vote on downtown campus would be taken if there is a consensus.
Thursday: Richards asks for another meeting with trustees the following week and would have representatives from Winn present to help respond to concerns.
Saturday: MCC board of trustees recommends Kodak site for downtown campus.
— James Goodman, staff writer