Rochester looks to the future with new development projects

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published March 6, 2024

 The property at the intersection of First and Diversion will be a multi-family residential development called Riverfront Place Apartments.

The property at the intersection of First and Diversion will be a multi-family residential development called Riverfront Place Apartments.

Photo by Mary Beth Almond


ROCHESTER — Many commercial and residential projects are currently underway in Rochester, with many more in the planning stages, making for an exciting start to 2024, officials said.

Rochester Mayor Stuart Bikson shared some highlights during the 2024 Community Outlook breakfast hosted by the Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce at Oakland University Feb. 29.

“We have a lot of exciting things going on in our city … a lot of really interesting, new concepts are coming to Rochester,” Bikson said.

One of the city’s most anticipated projects, according to Bikson, is The Granary — the conversion of the 2-acre former historic elevator site at the corner of University and Water Street into 30 luxury apartment units. A portion of the former historic elevator building has been retained on-site and will be turned into a clubhouse and historical information visitor center.

“The units are going to be 3,000-square-feet and it’s a bit expensive, but it’s going to be a beautiful project right downtown with saving our historical elevator,” Bikson said.

A new two-story 28,000-square-foot mixed-use building has been approved by City Council as a special project by Frank Rewold and Sons at 333 E. Third St. The ground floor tenants will include a restaurant and a market, with leasable office space on the second floor. The building, Bikson said, was designed to complement the existing historic Mills building on the site.

Riverfront Place Apartments, at the intersection of First and Diversion, will be a multifamily residential development. The complex will have 134 units in a five-story building and three, three-story townhouse-style buildings adjacent to the Clinton River Trail and within walking distance of downtown.

“This is an area that was really kind of underdeveloped,” Bikson noted. “It’s an industrial area, and now it’s going to be an exciting living complex, right on the Clinton River Trail, so it’s a really nice place, and we think it’s going to be really nice to add to our downtown.”

Over on Parkdale, Par Pharmaceutical — the largest employer in Rochester — is in the final stages of completing a new building addition of nearly 10,000 square feet on their site, which was approved a few years ago.

“They are spending tens and tens of millions of dollars expanding their facility … and we are very excited about that,” said Bikson.

The city is also looking forward to utilizing recently approved grant money totaling $1 million for two new all-access play areas for barrier-free recreation experiences. One area will replace the existing Tot Lot near Ludlow, and the other is being created within the Memorial Grove area, along with expanding the park pathway near the butterfly garden and sundial.

But that’s not all. The Planning Commission has also been busy reviewing many new residential projects — on what Bikson said is some of the last remaining open land in the city.

Underneath the bridge near the entrance to town, developers are hoping to open luxury upscale apartments called The Diversions.

“They are almost through the planning phase, and we think that is going to be an exciting project for our downtown,” Bikson said.

Also under the bridge, developers are hoping to build luxury apartments called The Preserve.

“It sounds like we are going to have all kinds of stuff under the bridge, but there is actually more land down there than you think — 5 to 6 acres. There was some industrial (use), and it has some brownfield issues, but we are going to get that cleaned up and really make that area, which now is maybe a little bit of an eyesore, into what we consider an excellent part of our community,” Bikson said

Another big project that is just coming to the Planning Commission is what is currently being called the Paint Creek Townhomes development at 704 Woodward, over by the Solaronics, across the street from Dillman & Upton.

“They are looking at putting 45 luxury condos that we think are going to fit right on the trail. They are very environmentally friendly, and we think it’s going to be an exciting project,” Bikson said.

The city of Rochester is also collaborating with the Rochester Community Schools district to save the district’s historical administration building at 501 W. University Drive. Bikson said the city of Rochester hopes to ask Rochester voters this fall if they would support a millage to help the city save the structure.

“We have approached the Rochester school board and talked about what we can do to save this historic building and do a pretty neat project. … We met with the school board a couple of times, and we think that we have a very exciting project in this building that has a lot of history and a lot of respect in our town,” he explained.

RCS interim Superintendent John Silveri confirmed that the city and the RCS Board of Education are in preliminary discussions.

“The hope of the board, and of the district, has been to find a way to keep the building intact — to be able to sell the building, but to do so in a way that the building wouldn’t disappear. A lot of folks love that old building. There is some historical value to it and, first and foremost, we would love to see that happen,” Silveri said. “It’s very preliminary — we are in the very early stages of dialogue — but it’s an exciting prospect to think that we may be able to collaborate with the city of Rochester in a way that would benefit the city, benefit the school district and preserve that building for many, many years to come.”

For more information on any of the projects, contact the city of Rochester at (248) 733-3700.