Rochester’s Brown Square- Home to Kodak’s World Headquarters

Brown Square is one of Rochester’s oldest neighborhoods and home to much of Rochester’s early industrial development of the 1830s. Widespread development occurred in the mid-late 1800s as Brown Square was settled by Italian, German, Irish, and  most recently Puerto Rican immigrants. Along the Genesse River near High Falls many warehouses and industrial uses were constructed. Historically State Street was a major north-south arterial in the City, and Kodak built their headquarters here in 1915. Sadly like many Rochester neighborhoods, Brown Square has not recovered since its post WW-II fall and is considered part of Rochester’s ” Crescent of Poverty”, a cluster of neighborhoods centered around the northern border of Downtown Rochester characterized by extreme poverty and crime.

Some revitalization has come to Brown Square including the repurposing of the Kodak Campus, renovating many warehouse buildings overlooking High Falls into lofts, restaurants, and creative stores, and two new stadiums. The stadiums unfortunately led to the demolition of large swaths of the district thanks no only to the stadium’s footprint but also to the ample amount of parking that surrounds them. Fortunately the neighborhood has held on to two attractive parks spaces (i.e. Brown Square Park and Jones Square Park).

What Brown Square needs is the intentional purchasing and redevelopment of the majority of the neighborhood. That is the type of intervention really needed to bring this neighborhood back. As so much of its fabric has been demolished, it can’t be affectively redeveloped piecemeal.

Click here to view my Browns Square Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Excellent public transit access. One of the best served neighborhoods in Rochester.
* Very convenient access to Dwtn as it sits just north of the western half of Dwtn.
* Several disjointed bike lanes in the neighborhood.
* Excellent racial diversity and average generational spread.
* Decent park amenities with the medium size Jones and Brown Square Parks and the outdoor Edgartown Rec Center.
*Some good cultural amenities including the Minor League ball park, a soccer stadium, a major artist center, several restaurants, a handful of bars& cafes, and a couple historic sites along the falls.
* Some nice warehouse buildings remain along the Falls and the old Kodak Highrise is great. Some decent in-fil apartments along the Falls as well.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Very poor district as the medium household income is around 15K.
*A decent grade school is located in the neighborhood. Several other schools in surrounding neighborhoods but not really walkable.
* Housing is very limited. Not many rentals on the open market here.
* What for sale housing exists is very affordable. For sale product sells anywhere btwn 25k-100K. A couple loft conversions along the river sell in the 100Ks and 200Ks but very limited product.
* Other than the river front and Jones Square and Brown Square Parks trees are pretty limited.
* Because of the High Falls redevelopment there are several boutiques, home goods, and creative stores near the river. There is also two banks. But overall neighborhood retail options aren’t great. No pharmacy, supermarket, library, photo office, etc.
* Sidewalks are generally in tact but current ADA curbs hit or miss.
* Not sure Brown Square is unsafely but its very blighted and abandoned.
* Urban massing is pretty bad. Large surface parking lots surround the stadiums and the urban fabric along the historic biz district of State and Lyell is pretty bad.

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