This month, I want to share another update on the planned Whole Foods Plaza. People often ask about Whole Foods, and lately, they often ask when Whole Foods will open. I expect that the Whole Foods Plaza will be a transformative project that will bring a number of tax and other benefits to Brighton, with safeguards to protect nearby neighborhoods and little negative impact on rush hour traffic.
The Whole Foods Plaza will have approximately 84,000 square feet of retail space on over 10 acres of land. It will be about 14,000 square feet larger than is permitted without a variance, so to offset impacts from the incremental size, the developer will provide significant community amenities. The developer will acquire right of way and construct the Auburn Trail from the Pittsford Town Line to Highland Ave. All existing trail easements will be retained by the town. A service drive will be constructed behind the businesses across Monroe Avenue from the project, to enable safer left turns in and out of those businesses, reducing the likelihood of traffic accidents and promoting economic development. Crosswalks will be installed at the new signalized intersection, improving pedestrian safety and access in the area. Finally, there will be no COMIDA tax abatements, ensuring that full taxes, estimated at approximately $400,000 per year, will be paid when the project is completed. A thorough traffic study was conducted as part of the environmental review, and the Town Board voted to reduce the size of the project and eliminate project access to Allens Creek Road and Clover Street, to protect surrounding neighborhoods. Upon completion, this gateway to Brighton will have new vitality, with traffic management improvements to mitigate traffic impacts and improve safety in an area that does become congested at rush hour. Improving traffic safety, and providing active transportation and transit alternatives to automobile dependency, will be more important to Brighton’s future than merely increasing speeds.
While I would rather not dwell on pending litigation, which the town’s attorneys consider to be without merit, there are a number of pending lawsuits, including at least one inexplicably seeking an injunction to block demolition of the eyesore buildings on the site. Fortunately, the injunction was denied by the court, and demolition is now underway. As many as 19 individual claims in various lawsuits have already been dismissed by the NYS Supreme Court. The town of Brighton conducted its review of this project thoroughly and openly. We listened and responded to neighborhood concerns and scrupulously followed all applicable laws. This project will generate significant tax revenue, particularly for our schools, without increasing enrollment or creating new demands on government services. It is critical that we grow our tax base to help residents, particularly those on fixed incomes, remain comfortably in Brighton. The Whole Foods Plaza will do this.
Nearly every day residents ask me when Whole Foods will be built. I believe the time is now. Change can be challenging, but it is essential to maintain and enhance the Brighton quality of life we all enjoy.