ROC the Riverway

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ROC the Riverway video

The ROC the Riverway program consolidates more than two dozen transformational projects along the Genesee River into a unified strategy. This will enable Rochester to better leverage the value of its riverfront.

The program includes a variety of projects, such as the completion of the Genesee Riverway Trail along the riverfront through the Center City, and a redesign of Charles Carroll Plaza and Genesee Crossroads Park. The plan also envisions significant upgrades to major riverfront facilities, including the Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial; the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center; and the Rundel Memorial Library building.

Revitalizing the Genesee River corridor will help fuel our local economy. ROC the Riverway will serve as a major asset in attracting new jobs and solidifying our identity as a vibrant waterfront community. Cities around the world have discovered the power of great public spaces, bicycle/pedestrian-focused infrastructure, and water-oriented development in attracting employers and the next generation workforce.  

ROC the Riverway was in February 2018 with an initial State investment of $50 million for Phase I. This first phase is guided by the ROC the Riverway Advisory Board, which is led by Chamber of Commerce President Robert Duffy and Monroe Community College President Anne Kress. See the list of Advisory Board members below. 

Mayor Warren and Governor Cuomo joined members of the ROC the Riverway Advisory Board on August 1, 2018 to unveil the Phase 1 Vision Plan, which serves as a blueprint for the $50 million State investment in ROC the Riverway. Phase I consists of 13 projects along the Genesee River. Additional riverfront projects have since been added to the growing ROC the Riverway program.


2018 Advisory Board Members

  • Bob Duffy (Co-Chair), Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce
  • Anne Kress (Co-Chair), Monroe Community College
  • Lisa Baron, Greentopia
  • Clement Chung, ROC City Coalition (Past Chair)
  • Veronica Dasher, Rochester Gas & Electric (AvanGrid/Iberdrola)
  • Shawn Dunwoody, DUNWOODE Visual Consulting
  • Jim Howe, The Nature Conservancy
  • Norman Jones, City of Rochester 
  • Nichole Malec, Constellation Brands (Downtown resident)
  • Eugenio Marlin, Ibero-American Development Corp.
  • Mary Beth Popp, North American Breweries
  • Heidi Zimmer-Meyer, Rochester Downtown Development Corp.

ROC the Riverway Overview Map 

View the overview map with project legend below. Download a larger version of the overview map here>> 


ROC the Riverway Primary Objectives     

  • Enhance the City’s potential for attracting State and private investment along the Genesee River;
  • Produce seamless multi-modal access along both sides of the river via the Genesee Riverway Trail and neighborhood connections to the trail;
  • Create dynamic public spaces, including a multi-use gathering space as the centerpiece of downtown;
  • Provide a massive boost to downtown’s ongoing resurgence;
  • Spur private development and job creation;
  • Repair and maintain critical infrastructure;
  • Remediate waterfront brownfield sites ;
  • Increase boating activity in the water south of Douglass-Anthony Bridge (I-490);
  • Establish a framework for active, sustained programming of public spaces and first floor uses.

 ROC the Riverway Design Principles  

  • Focus on design that is oriented to pedestrians, bicyclists, boaters, and recreational enthusiasts;
  • Re-orient buildings to the water and adjacent public spaces;
  • Focus first on public spaces and facilities that serve citizens and visitors;
  • Improve connectivity to, from, along and across the river;
  • Create numerous opportunities for public art, historic interpretation, whimsical installations, and environmental stewardship – all united to create a sense of urban ‘play’ and celebration of the river.

Relationship to Other City Plans 

 ROC the Riverway projects have been identified in numerous other plans and studies. ROC the Riverway is a means to show how they can be stitched together to form a cohesive vision for a revitalized waterfront.   

About the Renderings 

All renderings shown above and in the document are conceptual, not final designs. All private development and privately-run activities illustrated are shown to demonstrate context and the potential for leveraging funding. All renderings provided by Bergmann Associates except Charles Carroll Plaza rendering provided by Olin / T.Y. Lin.  

ROC the Riverway Projects

Aqueduct Re-Imagined and Riverfront Promenade

The re-imagined aqueduct will be the centerpiece of Downtown transformation – a place for public gatherings and community events, an opportunity for informal and formal programming, and the vital component in achieving the overall goal of the ROC the Riverway campaign – bringing people to the water. Removal of the vehicular deck of the Broad Street Bridge will open up the former aqueduct and subway bed to create a dynamic public space while enabling the completion of the Genesee Riverway Trail through Downtown – a critical north-south connection on both sides of the river. Phase 1 funding will pay for design of the new aqueduct and the connecting trail segments.

More information here.

Rundel Library North Terrace

Work on the North Terrace in conjunction with the Aqueduct Re-Imagined project creates the opportunity for inclusion of outdoor library rooms, cafe spaces, and enhanced programming opportunities. It is designed to seamlessly integrate with any design solution for the Aqueduct while connecting to the new riverfront promenade spaces. The design will open up dramatic new views of the river and rapids south of Court Street.

More information here.

Pont de Rennes Bridge

In addition to City and State investment in the structural repairs, ROC the Riverway funds will be used to create a more dynamic public space along the bridge with creative lighting, public art, plantings, and trail connections to enhance the visitor experience. The project will support planned investments at High Falls Terrace Park, the Brewery Line Trail, Rochester Waterworks Building, and the continued expansion of North American Breweries (Genesee Brewery).

More information here.

Rochester Riverside Convention Center 

Renovations and upgrades to the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center include expanding the north face of the building to better engage with East Main Street, widening the existing south terrace along the Genesee River to improve public access to the riverfront, preparing the terrace for a future extension of the Genesee Riverway Trail, and rehabilitation of the existing river wall and exterior building envelope. 

More information here.

Blue Cross Arena

This project will build off of past City and State investment to enhance the riverfront promenade and improve facility access by creating an expansion of the arena's riverfront side. 

The expansion will also include enlarged concession areas on the second level to showcase the incredible river view, providing an enhanced fan experience. The river terrace will be redefined and enhanced to create an open and dynamic riverfront interface with activities in and around the arena and adjacent Broad and Court Street connections. In conjunction with the Aqueduct Re-Imagined and Riverfront Promenade project, it will dramatically open up views and public spaces that will complement activity at the arena. This includes providing a more visible public presence to the War Memorial Flame at the river level of the building.

More information here.

Riverway Main to Andrews
          West:  Charles Carroll Plaza & Sister Cities Bridge
          East:   Genesee Crossroads Park

The renovation of Charles Carroll Plaza, the western riverfront link between Main Street and Andrews Street, will reinvigorate this critical public space by improving access, safety, connectivity and programming opportunities. Improvements will include improved lighting, greenspace, and views of the river. It will create ADA accessible connections between Main, Andrews, State, and St. Paul Streets as well as on the Sister Cities Bridge. Numerous walls that block views and create the perception of unsafe spaces will be removed. The riverfront experience on the east side, while narrower, will also be enhanced as a standalone project distinct from the west side. Collectively, these improvements will create a key site for various programming activities put on by the proposed Downtown/Riverfront Management Entity (see below), as well as an every-day riverfront park for downtown residents, especially those in the adjacent Andrews Terrace.

More information on the Charles Carroll Plaza & Sister Cities Bridge here.

Genesee Gateway Park

The re-imagined park will create a space which visually and physically connects the river to the surrounding neighborhoods. Areas for respite, flexible uses, and everyday play will ensure this is a riverfront park that offers something for all age ranges. The redeveloped park will also provide critical access to the river for non-motorized watercraft, as the next closest location to put in paddle boats is 2.2 miles upriver at the Genesee Waterways Center. The enhanced park will continue to host the South Wedge Farmers Market and will help entice river-oriented mixed-use development at the City-owned site to the north.

More information here.

Corn Hill Navigation

Corn Hill Navigation is currently engaged in a capital campaign to fund the purchase and operations of a downtown boat. ROC the Riverway funding would go directly to that campaign, recognizing the critical value of this educational and tourism asset in the South River corridor. The boat is of particular value to the Rochester City School District and other nearby schools, as an education curriculum has been developed to introduce students to the river’s history, ecology, and opportunities for environmental stewardship.

High Falls Terrace Park
Brewery Line Trail
St. Paul Street Underpass
High Falls Overlook Feasibility Study

Building upon the 2015 High Falls Pedestrian Access Improvement Study and the efforts of Greentopia in the area, this ROC the Riverway project actually consists of three distinct projects designed to address multiple needs in and near the park. For starters, the trail along the gorge is narrow and fenced off, limiting access. A wider trail, known as the Brewery Line Trail and part of the Genesee Riverway Trail system, will be relocated along a recently acquired railroad right-of-way that traverses the park, removing the need for the fence. Selective vegetation clearing will open up better views of the falls. A more welcoming connection to downtown will be established through better signage, lighting, and cosmetic improvements to the St. Paul Street underpass of the CSX railroad bridge. Various park amenities such as picnic tables and grills will be installed. Lastly, a study will be conducted to examine the feasibility of creating public access to the roof of the former RG&E Hydrostation #4 at the eastern edge of the falls.

More information on the Brewery Line Trail here.

More information on the High Falls Overlook Feasibility Study here.

Running Track Bridge Stabilization

The Running Track Bridge is a former rail bridge that once exemplified Rochester’s industrial prowess. Today, the bridge sits abandoned but continues to highlight the importance of connections across the Genesee River, linking neighborhoods like El Camino, Edgerton, and High Falls as well as destinations on either side. Rehabilitating the bridge as a pedestrian amenity will highlight the historic value of the structure, and reuse of this resource will allow the City to meet today’s needs and ensure complementary and cohesive connections to other ROC the Riverway projects. Phase 1 funding will secure the structure of the bridge to enable a future conversion to a multiuse trail.

More information here.

ROC City Skate Park

The skate park, Phase I completed in Fall 2020, boasts multiple features such as a main skate promenade, mini-ramps and ledges, and competition bowls. It also has opportunities for public art, music performances, and spectator seating. Located alongside the existing Genesee Riverway Trail and with easy access from South Avenue, the skate park attracts wheeled enthusiasts and spectators. It capitalizes on land that was otherwise unbuildable, situated under an interstate bridge and associated off ramps. This benefits skate park users as there are elements that enjoy shade and shelter while other elements are open to the air.

The skate park provides a much needed boost of activity on the edge of Downtown and in the South River Corridor. As was pointed out repeatedly during the ROC the Riverway public process, skateboarding has an emerging reputation of breaking down racial and socio-economic barriers in a way unlike any other sport. Design for Phases II and III of the Skate Park is set to begin in Fall 2021.

More information here.

Downtown / Riverfront Management Entity

In order to achieve a more vibrant, dynamic riverfront experience, a Downtown / Riverfront Management Entity will be created that will program and maintain the existing and newly created public spaces.

The City of Rochester and ROC the Riverway Advisory Board have explored management entity models across the nation, including Buffalo, Chattanooga, Baltimore, and Grand Rapids. While the sustainable funding model, scope, and other details of Rochester’s management entity are still to be determined, there has been strong community support for pursuing additional programming and management opportunities for these spaces.

Management entities around the country have a variety of responsibilities, including but not limited to: community visioning and engagement; coordinating private development activities; overseeing public infrastructure investments; receiving state and philanthropic funding; developing and implementing programs and events; engaging in marketing and branding efforts; maintenance and upkeep of public spaces; proliferating public art; and recruiting businesses. Such an entity will be critical to connecting people to the water and activating the great public spaces being created through ROC the Riverway while continuing the momentum of Downtown’s resurgence.

Front Street Promenade 

Public investments along the water’s edge, including a formal pedestrian promenade, will allow future development to take advantage of this unique position along the Genesee, with direct connections to the Genesee Riverway Trail to the south. An attractive pedestrian connection along the water will extend west along the north end of the site, connecting to the Mill Street tunnel under the Inner Loop. Signage, plantings, and surface improvements along these edges of the site will be designed to attract private development.