Tuesday, December 22, 2015

More on Downtown

As recently indicated, Rochester is just one of many American cities which has experienced population loss over the past 65 years.  Yet a look around the Northeast and Midwest seems to suggest that Rochester's downtown renaissance is behind the times.  While other cities hit a population nadir in the 2000 Census, Rochester's has yet to officially occur.  Obviously, the region's loud pessimistic voice (which has hopefully all moved to the Carolinas and Florida within the next few years) can take this statistic and run with it.  What if, however, a reasonable explanation exists? Could it be that Rochester's downtown decline occurred later than average? And if so, wouldn't logic have it that a rebirth would also occur later than average? Here is some evidence, albeit soft, that Rochester is actually following the standard timeline:

  • Most American cities which have undergone the cycle of growth, decline, and renewal hit rock bottom in the early to mid-1980s.
  • Most cities which nadired in the early to mid-1980s began to experience growth in the early 2000s, or about 20 years after reaching their floor.
  • Certain evidence points to Rochester's valley occurring in the early to mid-1990s.  For example, McCurdy's and Forman's closed in 1994.  Wegmans closed its downtown branch at about the same time.  In fact, Midtown Plaza didn't formally close until 2008.
  • If Rochester's low point did in fact occur in the early to mid-1990s, we would expect that its awakening should be beginning basically now.

A look around downtown might suggest that we're right on track.

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