Construction on a 23-story downtown Rochester tower has yet to begin because the developer has not finalized financing for the project, according to a city official.
In May, the City of Rochester pledged $6.5 million in assistance to developer Gus Chafoulias to build his long-planned $140 million Broadway at Center tower. Chafoulias, with limited assistance from his son Andrew Chafoulias and Titan Development and Investments, has been working on different versions of this project since 2007.
Broadway at Center will house a 264-room Hilton Hotel, 33 apartment units and space for office, retail and restaurant use. More than $14 million — including the city's $6.5 million assistance to the developer and the remainder of infrastructure costs — is planned to be reported as Destination Medical Center local contributions and credited toward the city's $128 million commitment.
The tower is to be built on South Broadway and East Center Street, just north of Broadway Residence and Suites by BridgeStreet. Since early last year, buildings that previously housed CJ's Midtown Lounge, Ginny's Fine Fabrics and Jakobson Management Co. have sat empty on the site. When the tenants were asked to vacate, Titan officials estimated that the buildings would be demolished during the summer of 2014.
When approving the project, the city agreed to work in conjunction with the developers to build an attached public parking ramp. But city officials said they have to wait on final paperwork from Titan Development before construction can start.
"Chafoulias indicated a while back that they are still reviewing some of their financing options for the project, so they have not provided us with that signed development agreement as of yet. I'm anticipating it should be fairly soon," City Redevelopment Director Terry Spaeth said. "I know they are looking at a couple different financing options."
The development agreement includes a number of provisions about vacating an alley, conveying properties and approving easements.
Spaeth said it's estimated it will take 22 months, from start to finish, to build Broadway at Center. The city's portion of the project is expected to take nine to 12 months to complete. The plan is for the city work to be completed to coincide with the opening of the overall project.
"Once they get going, I suspect things will get moving pretty rapidly," he said. "The first step is to get the development assistance agreement signed."
When asked about the status of the Broadway at Center project, Titan Marketing and Communications Manager Sheila Thoma said there wasn't much to report.
"I do not have a new/significant update. The project is still on course. With a major project like this, there are a lot of moving parts and it takes time to solidify all details," she wrote in response to inquiries about when the CJ's and Ginny's Fine Fabrics buildings would be demolished.
On May 4, the city approved a development assistance agreement with Titan about Broadway at Center. The Rochester Economic Development Authority, a board comprised of the seven Rochester City Council members, approved $6.5 million in tax increment financing and land write-downs. The EDA had put its development assistance agreement on hold until the Destination Medical Center Corp. board of directors named Broadway at Center as a DMC project. That happened on April 30.
Broadway at Center is reminiscent of a previous project called Time Square that Gus Chafoulias proposed for that block 15 years ago. When Mayo Clinic opted not to lease office space in the $200 million project, Chafoulias withdrew it in 2000.
"This is the single biggest disappointment of my career," Chafoulias said after making the announcement. "It never feels good when you fail. It didn't work out, but it's not the end of the world."
After Chafoulias withdrew, Dubai-based investors stepped in and built a 26-story tower, the tallest building in Rochester, on that corner. That tower, now known as Broadway Residence and Suites, stands next door to the proposed Broadway at Center project.