A New Rochester Neighborhood

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I sipped a wheat beer while striking up a conversation with a resident in Rochester’s newest neighborhood. His herding dog begged for attention as we randomly shared mutual knowledge surrounding the dynamics of mixed use, transit-oriented improvements in Rochester. Such was the vibe while enjoying a brew at Fattey Beer Company’s Rochester location, which happens to occupy the space that used to house the East side of a sunken moat of an urban expressway.

Rochester’s decade-long eastern Inner Loop expressway infill has created nearly a million square feet of developable space that now houses market rate AND affordable apartments, expanded space for The Strong Museum of Play, and a new downtown hotel.

The Inner Loop Expressway catered to an unquestionably low 6,000 cars per day before it’s infill

Included in this new neighborhood is a mile-long cycle track that adds a convenient piece of connectivity in Rochester’s downtown.

Beautiful apartments where an expressway used to be

Enjoying a brew at Fattey Beer while spontaneously connecting with Rochester residents was tremendous. Moving on to the new deli and grocer on the former footprint of the Inner Loop, I purchased a couple essentials. It was great to see deli options, convenience store staples and some fresh greens and produce offered in an area that previously had little access to these resources.

Next, I rode the cycle track to the Upper Monroe neighborhood to check in with Rochester’s newest brewery, Nine Spot Brewing on Monroe Ave. An amazing porter and a delicious bowl of Utica-style chicken riggies recharged my exploratory efforts.

Other establishments like Roc Brewing on Union Street adjacent to the former Inner Loop, and Strangebird on Marshal Street beg for a bar crawl along and around what used to be a literal urban moat.

Roc Brewing

And finally, one of the most ambitious Inner Loop infill victories is the addition of 90,000 square feet of space for the Strong Museum of Play, home to the National Toy Hall of Fame. As Rochester’s unquestionable king as a family friendly draw, the new addition is estimated to increase annual patronage from 600,000 to 1 million. And to compliment this addition is a state-of-the-art hotel, facilitating a downtown Rochester experience that caters to the family.

The new Hampton Inn takes final shape
The Strong Museum of Play re-opens in June 2023 featuring 90,000 square feet of additions

The Inner Loop infill, buoyed by the activation of several new restaurant, retail and brewery establishments, has comfortably re-ignited an area just outside of Rochester’s downtown, and the city is better for it. It has bolstered an already powerful tourist attraction for hundreds of thousands of families each year. This is far from the first time I’ve written about the incredible benefits yielded by Rochester’s downtown expressway removal, and it won’t be the last, as this unquestionable victory continues to amaze in the form of greater density, activation and the creation of a new neighborhood.