Thursday, March 09, 2006

The City of Rochester Needs More Housing

Apparently, the anti-sprawl movement is gaining some traction in our community. No, we haven't stopped a Wal-Mart or a Walgreens, we haven't denied new subdivisions in Penfield or Parma, and we haven't elected Bill Johnson as Monroe County Executive in a special election. What we have done is bought up almost every available single-family house in the City of Rochester. Yesterday's Democrat & Chronicle pointed out that while house sales are down 13% across the region, they are up nearly 20% in the City of Rochester.

What does that mean for someone looking to purchase a home in the City? For the most part, that means they'll either have to live in "the Crescent" or they'll have to rent. But don't take my word for it, check out Homesteadnet to see for yourself. There are currently only 30 homes available in the entire City priced between $100,000 and $150,000, and at least a few of those are sale-pending. Of those, only 18 are located in the highly-desirable Southeast quadrant, and most of these are on the periphery - not truly "inner-city." If you perform that same search in the southeastern towns of Monroe County (i.e., Brighton, Henrietta, Pittsford, Perinton, Penfield, and Webster), you are given 118 houses to choose from!

While this is truly a good sign for the City's future, it is not good for those of us who are currently considering buying a home here. It seems like local home builders are just not interested in building new (or refurbishing existing) homes in the City. Situations like this force people to move out to cookie-cutter subdivisions in the 'burbs, and that is simply unfair. Sure, there aren't big open spaces in the City upon which to build. But there are vacant lots, there are brownfields, there are surface parking lots. There are many opportunities for developers to satisfy our appetite for good City housing. These need not be typical 3BR, 2.5 BA houses. They can be high-rise condos, brownstones, rowhouses, etc. Use your imagination. Let's hope they step up to the plate, because renting is starting to wear on me.