As Kodak emerged from bankruptcy, local and federal officials cut the ribbon on what's expected to be the first part of a $181 million revitalization project in downtown Rochester.
Local and federal leaders cut the ribbon Tuesday on what was once the Seneca Building in Rochester and is now the new home of Windstream.
"We're not going to be the city we want to be if we don't have a vibrant downtown; that's just a fact," said Mayor Tom Richards, D-Rochester, at a news conference before that ribbon-cutting.
Many believe that new construction at the former Midtown Plaza site will finally bring about that vibrant downtown. It's starting with Windstream.
More than 330 of the company's design, sales and IT employees will take up the first two floors of the 109,000 square-foot Seneca Building. About 70 have already moved in. The rest will move in by the end of this month and next. The third floor of the building is still available for lease.
"We didn't have to stay here but we thought it was absolutely the right thing to do, for our employees, for the city to honor the commitments that were in place when we did this acquisition," said Windstream President and CEO Jeff Gardner.
The Pike Company invested $19 million to redevelop the Seneca building. Chairman and CEO Tom Judson said they started the work after Windstream's commitment to stay in Rochester, but also sees future opportunities.
Developer Larry Glazer partnered up with Morgan Management to develop the former Midtown Tower. The $55 million project includes new retail, residential and office space.
Glazer said the development will work if they build it right and give people what they need.
"I thought the timing was right. Rochester is a little behind other cities when it comes to urban revitalization, but the Central Business District is alive and well. There's activity everywhere."
And after so many years of talking about what downtown could be, now actually seeing what is will be key to this area's success.
"It gives people confidence that there's really projects going on here that will get completed and people are moving down here, and success begets success," said Glazer.
Glazer expects to really begin renovations in the spring and finish construction by the end of next year.