Park Point at RIT
When BME Associates was selected for the design team that created the development plan for Park Point at RIT, it was clear this could be an extremely beneficial project for both the college and the Town of Henrietta.
For RIT, it would address a huge demand for student housing, needed commercial services in an 80,000-square-foot, multi-story retail center, and create a highly attractive gateway to the campus.
And, as a privately owned and developed parcel by the Wilmorite Corporation, it would add 65 highly valuable acres to the Town of Henrietta tax rolls.
But it was also clear that some real challenges lay ahead, from New York State DEC approval for one of the largest wetland mitigation proposals ever considered to a keen focus on landscaping—and the need to advance the entire project very quickly.
Mitigating 4.3 Acres of Wetlands
Project Engineer / Wetland Services
Our first step was to provide conceptual design support to the City for its application to the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation for a green infrastructure grant. Canandaigua was successful, and received $385,000 for the project.
We then developed several options that included a series of bio-filtration areas that collect storm water runoff from the sidewalk and roadway corridor. The storm water is then treated through both soil media and plant materials before being released into the storm sewer system, and ultimately to the Canandaigua Lake Outlet.
For nearly a year, we coordinated the involvement of the NYSDEC, NYSDOT, the City of Canandaigua DPW, RG&E, and Main Street business owners. In the end, it is our understanding that this project marked the first time that a green infrastructure project of this nature was approved and completed within a NYSDOT right of way.
The final Main Street project includes some 26 landscaped bio-retention areas, 50 replanted trees, and hundreds of shrubs and landscaping perennials. Recycled brick pavers from Jamestown, NY, were used to accentuate the design of the pedestrian space, and other infrastructure improvements included landscape irrigation, and both street and special effect lighting.
Throughout the five month construction phase, BME’s construction services team worked very closely with the contractor to communicate project progress, as well as to provide immediate problem-solving and trouble-shooting for frequent unforeseen circumstances that often occurred on a daily basis.
Clearing Hurdles, Moving Forward
Doug Eldred, P.E.
Senior Project Engineer
Time is of the essence with every development endeavor, and at BME we pride ourselves on successfully completing projects on time and on budget.
In the case of Park Point at RIT, however, added pressure stemmed from the realities of the school’s academic calendar. The process of completing the environmental review and other required approvals would typically take 18 months and would have caused RIT to delay student occupancy another full academic year without benefit of the new, Collegetown housing.
“We were able to navigate the process and obtain Town approvals in just nine months.”
By staying on task and attending to details, we were able to navigate the process and obtain Town approvals in just nine months, much to RIT’s delight.
Because of the 4.3 acres of wetlands on the parcel, we also had to prove to the New York State DEC that this was the only location that the project would work. In fact, the DEC suggested four other parcels and required us to review all of them as part of the application process.
Based on successful projects over the years, both BME and Wilmorite have forged a level of trust and an excellent working relationship with the DEC. Still, it took due diligence and many man-hours before we convinced the agency that the selected site would provide the mixed-use center and gateway to the campus that RIT desired, and would also provide readily accessible public access to the commercial portion of the development site that was needed to make the overall project plan economically viable.
In the end, the DEC agreed that the other alternative sites could not provide the critical socio-economic benefits. That left us free to move forward on the chosen site-and that brought us back to the wetlands challenge, where Martin Janda’s expertise played a critical role.
— P.J. Wilmot, President, Wilmorite Corporation
Creating a Gateway to and Focal Point for the RIT Campus
Andrew Spencer, R.L.A.
Senior Planner / Landscape Architect
RIT wanted Park Point to be a lifestyle center for its students. That meant it had to be aesthetically pleasing as well as functional.
Throughout the process we also had to keep in mind that this would be the gateway to RIT-the first glimpse of the school for visitors coming to the campus. As such, it would be a key piece of RIT’s recruiting effort, and it had to live up visually to that high standard of aesthetic appeal.
“We always kept in mind that this would be the gateway to RIT.”
Accessibility was important, too, in order to assure that the retail businesses could be commercially viable.
We oriented the buildings in such a way as to create what amounts to an urban plaza in a relatively suburban area, and we surrounded much of it with natural stone walls that provide both aesthetic appeal and visitor seating. This courtyard gathering space doubles as an activity area for plays, concerts and, of course, Frisbee. The plaza area also became the defining element to create the Park Point “sense of place.”
Other project improvements included development of private roadways that meander adjacent to the natural wetlands, parking for both residential and commercial uses, public and private utilities and significant landscaping and site lighting. In addition, a system of trails and sidewalks was developed throughout the project site for pedestrian accessibility between the residential and commercial use areas.