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Chamber News Release

Governor Hochul Celebrates Start of Construction for Mixed-Use Revitalization Project in Downtown Rochester

July 1, 2024
Harper’s Corner Will Transform Long-Blighted Corner into Commercial Space and 11 Affordable Apartments
Renovation of Four Historic Buildings is Part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative
Investment Complements Finger Lakes Forward, the Region’s Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy 

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that construction has begun on a $12.7 million project to rehabilitate four historic commercial buildings into Harper’s Corner, a mixed-use community with ground-floor commercial space and 11 residential apartments above.

“We are breathing new life into Rochester’s historic downtown in a way that is emblematic of our rich history and sets us up for a vibrant future,” Governor Hochul said. “Our Downtown Revitalization Initiative, combined with talented developers and homegrown ideas, is a recipe for miraculous change. This derelict block will soon be a lively shopping destination with new affordable homes that will bring community back to the corner of Clinton and Main.”

In the early 1900s, the corner of Clinton and Main was a prime destination for shopping, working, and gathering. Over the last 40 years, businesses abandoned the corner leaving it desolate and dilapidated. The city of Rochester made its rehabilitation a priority in their application to the State’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative and is using $4 million of their $10 million DRI award to renovate the residential portions of the four buildings. New York Homes and Community Renewal is administering those funds. Construction of the ground floor commercial spaces is funded through a collection of programs, including HCR’s Community Investment Fund, which supports the creation, preservation, and improvement of affordable mixed-use developments. The storefronts will be marketed to Minority and Women-Owned Businesses and other local enterprises.

Work will include restoration of the building façade to preserve the remaining architectural features, including to structurally repair the historic storefronts to the National Park Service standards. The building is designed to be rehabilitated to all-electric mechanical systems for heating, cooling, and hot water, and to meet high energy efficiency standards that comply with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) New Construction – Housing Program and with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Indoor airPLUS program.

HCR funding for both the commercial and residential portions of Harper’s Corner includes $4 million through DRI and $2 million in CIF. The project will receive $3.9 million in Federal and NYS Historic Tax Credits syndicated by Bank on Buffalo; $2.4 million through the City of Rochester, which includes $710,000 through Empire State Development’s Restore NY initiative, a total of $1 million through the public and privately funded Regional Revitalization Partnership and $22,000 from NYSERDA

The development team is Home Leasing, Inc. as developer and management agent.

New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “Behind the complex funding of this $12.7 million restoration project is a deep determination to respect our heritage and provide for the needs of modern Rochester. As Governor Hochul has shown, homes and business are the keys to this city, and we intend to honor our commitment to provide both. Thank you to our partners, Homes Leasing, the City of Rochester and our sister agencies. It takes a concerted effort to make this sort of dream come true and I am proud of our team for making it possible.”

Empire State Development President and CEO & Commissioner Hope Knight said, “This game-changing project is set to transform a blighted city block at the intersection of East Main Street and North Clinton Avenue into a vibrant downtown Rochester hub. Thanks to Governor Hochul’s vision through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, RESTORE NY and Regional Revitalization Partnership programs, four vacant and dilapidated buildings are ready to be adaptively reused, carefully rehabilitated and reimagined as a beautiful, mixed-use destination.”

NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “Affordable and energy efficient housing is a priority for Governor Hochul and Harper’s Corner Development reflects another meaningful State investment at work to ensure more comfortable, healthy, and modern living options are available for New Yorkers. NYSERDA is proud to support this development and looks forward to its longstanding positive impact on Monroe County, especially for its most vulnerable citizens.”

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Pro Tempore Randy Simons said, “We applaud Rochester and communities across New York State for investing in their downtowns and utilizing their historic buildings as part of these impactful revitalization efforts. Transforming vacant historic properties into commercial and residential hubs that offer affordable housing and business opportunities takes creativity and collaboration, and we are proud to be part this work.”

New York Secretary of State Walter T. Mosley said, “The Harper’s Corner project is a prime example of the meaningful role history and culture play in the transformation of a community through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Once completed, these abandoned buildings on a prominent downtown corner will be transformed back into a hub of activity for downtown Rochester residents to live, shop and play, with a focus on affordability and marketing to Minority and Women-Owned Businesses in honor of the trailblazer and Rochester businesswoman, Martha Matilda Harper.”

The name Harper’s Corner was chosen to honor Rochester businesswoman, Martha Matilda Harper, the first female member of the Rochester Chamber of Commerce and was posthumously elected to the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Harper invented the modern beauty salon. She moved to Rochester as a young girl, and in 1888 she opened her first – and the city’s first – beauty salon right down the street from the Powers Building. Among her inventions were the reclining salon chair, her own line of beauty products, and “The Harper Method” haircare routine. Encouraged by her friend, Susan B. Anthony, in the 1890s Harper pioneered the first successful “franchise” business model in the country, offering other women a chance to benefit from their own entrepreneurial endeavors. As a result, Harper’s business expanded and the next 100 salons bearing her name were opened and operated by women.

Representative Joe Morelle said, “This exciting project marks another step towards strengthening our urban core and revitalizing downtown Rochester. It is particularly fitting that the name Harper’s Corner will reflect our long history of entrepreneurship while bringing us into a new era of economic growth. I’m grateful to Governor Hochul for her leadership and commitment to investing in the future of our community.”

State Senator Jeremy Cooney said, “Revitalizing downtown means creating spaces that Rochesterians are excited to visit, but for too long the corner of Clinton and Main has had the opposite effect. I’m excited for the corner’s redevelopment and look forward to having this highly trafficked section of our city be an area our community can be truly proud of.”

Assemblymember Demond Meeks said, “Our downtown area has long been deprived of meaningful investments in our historic infrastructure that the members of our community depend upon. Ambitious projects such as Harper’s Corner will enhance the quality of life for our residents while also taking the necessary steps to preserve Rochester’s history for future generations. As we continue a major process of revitalization for our city, I remain committed to delivering key economic support for our small businesses and creating significant opportunities for our neighborhoods and families to build community wealth. Thank you to my state colleagues and our local partners for their continued commitment to the people of Greater Rochester.”

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said, “The Harper's Corner project honors our history while also serving our current and future needs. It's a testament to the collective effort and commitment of community leaders, government, preservationists, and developers who are working together to revitalize Rochester’s downtown. This project continues to build on the new investments we are seeing in Downtown Rochester, and will transform a blighted corner of downtown into a new revitalized space. Thank you to Mayor Evans, Bret Garwood and the team at Home Leasing for their work on this incredible project."

Rochester Mayor Malik Evans said, "For years, I have been focused on improving this prominent downtown corner. Thanks to Governor Hochul and investments made through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, we are making progress and witnessing a central location in the Flower City finally beginning to blossom.”

Councilmember Michael A. Patterson said, “Harper’s Corner takes a series of small commercial spaces that have well outlived their commercial viability and transforms them into additional affordable housing which is greatly needed in our community.”

Home Leasing CEO Bret Garwood said, "Home Leasing is very excited to start the transformation at the northwest corner of Main and Clinton into Harper's Corner. By this time next year, the properties will once again become the vibrant center of downtown Rochester that they were historically. This would not have been possible without the strong support of the City of Rochester, County of Monroe and the State of New York."

Located in a historic district, the rehabilitation for this project will be done through guidelines given by the State Historic Preservation Office. For additional information on Harper’s Corner please visit the Home Leasing website at


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