Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Wegmans "Dedication to City" Puts Residents in Danger

Today's Democrat & Chronicle had a quick blurb about a large steel antenna falling onto East Avenue from the historic but now abandoned Doyle Security building (the news brief follows this commentary). This structure is one of many on the block between Probert Street and Winton Road that were purchased by Wegmans in their continuing attempt to force-feed suburban retail design into a city neighborhood. Prior to Wegmans' purchase, this was a well-maintained and fully-occupied building housing a responsible local business. Now, as Wegmans continues to struggle with the concept of adjusting their suburban big box model to meet the realities of serving the City of Rochester, and despite the building's historic significance and the fact that Wegmans has not yet been granted any approvals for building here, this building and others around it are being allowed to fall apart.

As is the case with any other landlord that fails to keep up his or her property, Wegmans should be given notice that they must maintain these buildings in a state of good repair or risk hefty fines. As far as I'm concerned, most of these buildings deserve to be saved from the wrecking ball. Wegmans can work around them or incorporate them into their new store design. Clearly though, the powers that be at Wegmans headquarters are more interested in seeing these buildings decline to the point of no return. Once they're gone, there will be little reason to fight their ill-conceived store expansion. That may please many of the 20-somethings in the Park and East Avenue neighborhoods, who can continue their typical suburban lifestyles for the few years that they live in the City before moving to the suburbs to raise their children. But to any of us who have chosen to raise a family in the City, this is a disaster. We do not want to see our City turned into a playground for suburbanites nor do we want any one of our City business districts turned into a sick caricature on suburban America. We do not want to see one of our grandest boulevards (East Avenue) turned into a high-speed, drive-through, big box suburban thoroughfare. One need only look at Mount Hope Avenue south of Elmwood to see the negative effects the imposition of suburban design has on a City street. If this City gives a damn about its future, it will hold Wegmans' collective feet to the fire and not allow this important business district to collapse.

Steel antenna falls on road

No one was injured when an 80-foot steel antenna came loose and fell from a building on East Avenue Monday evening, but the road was closed for more than an hour as the debris was cleared. The antenna, which once was used by the Doyle Security Co. at 1806 East Ave., near North Winton Road, fell from the 40-foot building onto the street below about 7:15 p.m., said Battalion Chief Mike Dupra.

Although there was heavy rain and lightning in the area, Dupra said it doesn't appear the antenna was struck. Some cables holding the antenna in place apparently failed, he said.
Crews from Rochester Gas and Electric Corp. removed the antenna, which belongs to Wegmans Food Markets since it purchased the building.