To support my earlier claims here's an article about how these supposed revitalization projects go wrong. Although this isn't a project designed for tall buildings like the example from the article, I completely agree with the idea that many small, home grown developments add much more to a downtown area than large scale redevelopments that waste so much of our urban space, like the current design of this project.https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2017/7/3/the-illusion-of-revitalization
The zoning code effectively prohibits any sort of small-scale, incremental development for a huge portion of downtown. Instead, these zones are reserved for the exclusive use of large developers willing to invest in massive, all-or-nothing projects like the Legacy Tower or the Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield offices, both of which sit empty outside of work hours.
Rochester should learn from the failure of local titans of industry (Xerox, Bausch & Lomb, Kodak) and realize that a downtown of grand or monumental scale is hardly a prerequisite of success and vitality. In fact many places with considerably more active downtowns exhibit a far more humble appearance than Rochester (e.g. Princeton, New Jersey; Summit, New Jersey; Easton, Pennsylvania; Ithaca, New York). It’s time for planners to permit a more granular approach to downtown development and eliminate nonsensical mandates of high floor counts and monumental scales.
If Rochester truly wants the quality of its street life to match that of its skyline, it’s time to think beyond the form to the function of its buildings and how they connect with their surroundings. Fortunately, recent efforts on behalf of the city and private developers alike have moved towards fixing the planning failures of the past, and downtown is slowly but surely heading in the right direction. But to address the root of the issue, planners must work towards continuing to relax a zoning code fixated on some twentieth century vision of a downtown built for cars and commuters.
Codes should allow developers every opportunity to incrementally build downtown as a true place to live again. Until then, the gap between the grandeur of the skyline and the health of the streets will remain.