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Austin Steward Plaza Dedication Marks Major Milestone in Downtown Rochester Revitalization

Photo Credit: Dan Gross, News 8

In a significant step forward for downtown Rochester, Governor Kathy Hochul, Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado, and City of Rochester Mayor Malik Evans celebrated the completion and dedication of the newly renovated Austin Steward Plaza. This project, a key part of the "ROC The Riverway" initiative, represents a $12 million investment aimed at revitalizing the Genesee River waterfront and fostering economic growth in the region.

Previously known as Charles Carroll Plaza, the newly named Austin Steward Plaza pays homage to Rochester's first prominent Black business owner and abolitionist. Mayor Malik Evans announced the renaming earlier this year, highlighting Steward's remarkable legacy and contributions to the city's history.

The extensive renovations to Austin Steward Plaza include improved lighting, increased greenspace, and better views of the Genesee River. The project also introduced ADA-accessible connections between Main, Andrews, State, and St. Paul Streets and integrated the Sister Cities Bridge. These upgrades have transformed the once underutilized area into a vibrant, accessible community space.

The "ROC The Riverway" initiative is a collaborative effort between the State, City, and regional economic development partners. Funded through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative and administered by the Department of State, the project exemplifies the power of public-private partnerships in driving urban renewal.

Bob Duffy, President and CEO of Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, emphasized the importance of this project:

"Today marks another pivotal moment for Greater Rochester as we celebrate the completion and dedication of Austin Steward Plaza. This reimagined public space not only honors the legacy of a remarkable abolitionist and entrepreneur but also serves as a testament to our commitment to revitalizing downtown Rochester. Thanks to Governor Hochul's vision and the collaborative efforts of State, City, and regional partners, we are transforming the Genesee River waterfront into a vibrant, accessible, and safe community asset. This investment is a significant step forward in our collective mission to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life for all Rochester residents."

Phase one of "ROC The Riverway" includes 13 targeted projects, many of which are either completed or under construction. This phase also features the Aqueduct Reimagined project adjacent to the new Constellation Brands global headquarters. Phase two, launched by Governor Hochul in 2023, will establish High Falls State Park within the historic Genesee River gorge in downtown Rochester.


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