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This is Rochester
   A summary of news about Greater Rochester business and industry
  Most recent developments

Rochester Catholic Diocese files for Chapter 11 reorganization

Sept. 12, 2019 -- Facing potentially huge judgments for past sexual abuse by its priests, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester a petition for Chapter 11 reorganization.

The filing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Rochester is intended to reorganize the diocese’s finances and create a plan for the diocese to continue operations. It is fallout from civil lawsuits triggered by New York's Child Victims Act passed by the New York State Legislature. The CVA created a one-year window during which accusers can file legal claims for sexual abuse they suffered as children without being hampered by the statute of limitations.

More than 580 lawsuits, including nearly 60 locally, have been filed statewide since Aug. 14, with most accusing Roman Catholic priests, brothers, deacons or nuns of abuse.

Rochester's diocese, which encompasses 12 counties and approximately 360,000 Catholics, is the first of New York state's eight dioceses to seek protection from creditors in bankruptcy court because of potential financial fallout from the sexual abuse scandal.

The diocese had $55 million in net assets as of June 2018. But the bankruptcy filing projects that the potential abuse payouts could erode the diocese's ability to operate. The Chapter 11 filing halts all action on the current civil suits and moves the to the bankruptcy proceeding.

Rochester Riverside Hotel will close next year

Sept. 4, 2019 -- The Rochester Riverside Hotel will cease operations early next year, with developer Dave Christa saying there are no immediate plans beyond honoring reservations through the first quarter of 2020.

Christa said last fall that he would move forward with plans to redevelop the hotel, despite philanthropist Tom Golisano pulling back on his $25 million pledge for a performing arts center on the downtown Rochester site.

Christa had previously said the location could be a preliminary piece of property for another development across the street from the Joseph A. Floreano Riverside Convention Center.

Whole Foods wins key approval for Brighton location

Aug. 29, 2019 -- The New York State Department of Transportation has ruled that the proposed Whole Foods Plaza development in Brighton can move forward, Brighton Town Supervisor Bill Moehle announced.

The DOT approval is tied to the release of its traffic impact study. Moehle said the State Environmental Quality Review Act findings concluded that the project "minimizes environmental impacts to the maximum extent possible."

The proposed grocery store is slated to go on Monroe Avenue near Clover Street.

Spot Coffee employees in Buffalo vote to unionize

Aug. 21, 2019 -- Buffalo-area employees of Spot Coffee have voted to form a union, following in the footsetps of a Spot location in Rochester that had organized in May.

The vote by a 43-6 margin aligned the approximately 90 Buffalo employees with Workers United.

Workers said they would not end their call to boycott Spot cafes until demands to re-hire three fired workers are met. The union contends they were let go due to their union activities.

Spot Coffee CEO Anton Ayoub previously said corporate leaders "continue to recognize and support our employees' rights to decide whether they wish to be union represented."

Wilmorite selling its interest in Del Lago casino

Aug. 16, 2019 -- The Wilmot family is selling its 50 percent stake in the del Lago Resort & Casino less than three years after the opening.

The $440 million complex in Tyre, Seneca County, has struggled to meet its revenue projections.

Wilmorite has agreed to sell its share to Peninsula Pacific, the California-based firm that Wilmorite partnered with to open the casino. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

In 2018, Wilmorite and the del Lago team unsuccessfully sought a bailout from the state in the form of a lower tax rate. They argued they were at a competitive disadvantage with the Oneida Indian Nation.

The casino is likely to benefit from its soon-to-open sportsbook allowing bets on sporting contests.

Verizon in dispute with Rochester over 5G upgrade

Aug. 12, 2019 -- Mobile carrier Verizon is suing the City of Rochester, contending that the city's Telecommunications Code violates FCC regulations.

In its lawsuit, Verizon alleges elements of the city's code, including small wireless facility attachment fees, right-of-way compensation fees and pole attachment fees, violate FCC standards. Verizon also alleges the city's underground and aerial installations fees are unreasonable and "discriminatory."

The lawsuit arose after Verizon sought to upgrade its network with 5G capabilities.

Verizon is seeking costs and expenses, in addition to having the city cease enforcing its code policies.

A city spokesperson said the lawsuit is frivolous and that other similar companies are following the code.

PSC cites reliability concerns at Frontier

Aug. 9, 2019 -- The Public Service Commission is requiring Frontier Communications to identify the localized issues and causes of the recurring outages and then produce monthly reports on what's being done to address the problem.

In a letter to Frontier management, PSC Chairman John Rhodes said the company has "significant service quality problems, including escalating complaint rates, lengthy repair durations, and localized network reliability issues."

A Frontier spokseman said the company "takes Commission Chair Rhodes' concerns seriously and is committed to delivering quality service."

Wegmans moves ahead with replacing plastic bags

July 23, 2019 -- Wegmans will stop providing plastic grocery bags at its Ithaca and Corning stores this month in a pilot program as the company prepares for a statewide ban that begins March 1, 2020.

Paper grocery bags will be sold for five cents at the Ithaca and Corning stores, though a Wegmans spokesperson said its goal is to convert customers to reusable bags. Money collected from the paper bags will be donated to the Food Bank of the Southern Tier.

Wegmans has 46 stores that will fall under the new state law early next year.

More Blue Cross Arena events at risk

July 15, 2019 -- Disney On Ice, Monster Jam and Sesame Street Live will not be coming to Blue Cross Arena this year or next as the facility operator's continues to take a hard line in contract negotiations.

Feld Entertainment, the producer of those events, said it has reached a stalemate with Pegula Sports Entertainment. A spokesperson for PSE said in a statement, "We have had many conversations with Feld Entertainment and remain open to reaching a reasonable agreement to bring their events to Blue Cross Arena."

The development comes on the heels of the announcement that the Jehovah's Witnesses have moved two annual convention weekends to Pennsylvania after organizers they were unable to reach an agreement with PSE.

The potential financial impact on hotels and restaurants over the recent decisions has created some concern, but city officials have said facility revenues are up and expenses are down since PSE took over Blue Cross Arena.


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