WXXI AM News

Local Leaders React To A Proposal To Have Photonics Headquartered At Legacy Tower In Rochester

Aug 13, 2015

Credit B&L photo

A group of local business leaders is pushing for a photonics headquarters to be located at the former Bausch + Lomb building in Rochester.  There seems to be general support for the concept because of  one central desire among the various officials, and that is to make sure the operation is somewhere in the downtown Rochester area.

Even though the initial push by University of Rochester President Joel Seligman and others has been to see if the headquarters for the new photonics operation could be at the Sibley Building, there isn't a lot of push-back, at least at this point, to the idea floated by a group called the 'Rochester Business Leaders Photonics Working Group."

That group, which includes  the CEO's of Kodak, Wegmans, Paychex and the Rochester Business Alliance, suggests Legacy Tower, formerly the B + L headquarters, might be a better location because it would require less renovation to house a photonics headquarters.

The building is owned by Buckingham Properties and Morgan Management.  The managing partner of Buckingham, Ken Glazer, tells WXXI News, he's got two top floors on the Legacy building that would work well for such a facility, and even more importantly, he thinks it would spur other development in the area.

"Just having them at Legacy is only having one small piece of the pie, I think the spinoff and the ripple effect for the whole area of downtown especially in that tower district is really going to be incredible."

Glazer says even if the people behind the photonics project decide Sibley is a better spot, he's fine with that. He just hopes it can be located downtown and Mayor Lovely Warren agrees.

"This is really about bringing jobs and opportunity to the city of Rochester and we are hopeful and excited about the possibility that it will be located in downtown,” Warren told WXXI News.

Glazer says he won’t be upset if the people organizing the photonics operation eventually decide it would work better at Sibley, or another location, as long as it can be located in Rochester.

"Rochester is the kind of place where the developers...we're all on the same team, and if one does well we all root for them. We know that we're all just trying to rebuild the city. Any good business whether it's us or it's our neighbor, we all stand behind each other and help each other out,” Glazer explained.

Glazer is also an honorary co-chair of WXXI's 'Go Public, ' fundraising campaign.

Rochester Business Alliance President Bob Duffy, echoed that sentiment, saying that "wherever the headquarters goes, my sense is every building is going to benefit from this .....so the most important thing, we want the headquarters downtown."

A vice president with WinnDevelopment, which owns Sibley, says that building would be an ideal location for a photonics institute. Joseph Eddy says Sibley is already the center of a new Downtown Innovation Zone and home to the organization High Tech Rochester. He says they have space that can be occupied within 60 days of a final decision on a location for the photonics operation. Eddy says Winn Development has already invested more than $5 million in Sibley to put it in a position where it can fulfill any large companies' needs. 

The photonics operation is eventually expected to involve an investment of $600 million in the Rochester area and across Upstate New York.