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The evolving college town … Campus life

Ithaca is a college town. Ann Arbor is a college town. Chapel Hill is a college town. State College is a college town.

Henrietta is a college town…. Well, we’re still evolving from our move from downtown to the suburbs in 1968.

The Real RIT Challenge has administrators immersed in student life. Last night, groups were given different assignments: Some navigated their way to Dinosaur BBQ in downtown Rochester (after their bus was 20 minutes late and the temp was a balmy 17 degrees); some were sent to Wegmans (with no clear way of returning home); and my group was sent to Lovin’ Cup at Park Point.

The commute from Gleason Circle was easy enough. But we had the challenge of figuring out why the 3-year-old development isn’t exactly living up to the hype of a “college town,” at least in the eyes of the students.

Many students feel Park Point caters too much to the non-RIT community. They feel prices are too high for the average student. And they feel there are too many restaurants (currently five).

One thing I admire about RIT students: If they have a problem, they don’t just whine; they come up with solutions. Students understand the current business model to sustain Park Point, but they feel the addition of a convenience store and space to display and sell student artwork and projects would be beneficial, too.

During the Challenge, I also lunched with a group of student athletes. They wanted to address two key issues to improve their Tiger experience: 1) Accessing food after late practices and 2) allowing student athletes the ability to register early for classes. Again, they came with solutions, such as establishing a pre-ordered express-dining program with healthy options.

Final thoughts on the Challenge:

• Let’s get some more microwaves in the suites at the RIT Inn & Conference Center.  Demand is high for popcorn and Ramen noodles.

• My roomie, Randy Vercauteren, has one of the toughest jobs on campus. He’s in charge of parking and transportation and has the perfect demeanor for the job (patience, thick skin, customer-service oriented). That said, lighten up people! We have FREE parking and have to walk a few hundred yards. Have you ever parked downtown? Any city? Have you ever parked at another major university? Show me better.

• Let’s get some wireless routers at the RIT Inn.

• Don’t let RIT administrators play Xbox Rock Band. I haven’t heard Duran-Duran in years. And it wasn’t pretty.

• Compared to the 2009 dorm challenge (4 a.m. fire alarms), I am very well rested.

I think it is important to note that RIT is evolving rapidly. The challenges faced by the university are all due to growing pains. We’re like that feisty teen that’s still maturing. These are good problems to have.

Thank you Student Government for allowing me to walk in your shoes, albeit just for a few short days.

  1. Wendy
    Jan 24

    As the Marketing Director for Park Point, I’m happy that we were included in part of this year’s Real RIT Challenge. I appreciate hearing the feedback everyone provided about the property — not just through these blogs, but also at the informational wrap-up session on Friday afternoon.

    I wanted to take this opportunity to address some of the comments about Park Point that came up during the challenge. (My apologies in advance for copying and pasting this in a few areas — I wanted to make sure everyone who commented had a chance to see this response.)

    First, I think it’s important to note that while Park Point is certainly part of the RIT community, we aren’t technically part of the RIT campus. Our connection to RIT is obviously very strong, but Park Point is a privately owned and operated property. Our residents are 99% RIT students and our stores and restaurants have and continue to make every effort to connect with that student base to make it the place they want to go during their spare time. That said, no “college town” can survive simply on student support, and therefore our retailers have to market to people in the community as well in order to stay successful (especially during the times that students are gone).

    I appreciate all of the feedback and suggestions as to what kinds of stores everyone would like to see at Park Point as well. Know that we have a commercial leasing team that is constantly looking to bring in new retailers. However, as you know, every retailer (especially in a challenging economy) is going to research nearby competition and if the numbers are there to support their operation. As I learned Friday, the challenge Park Point has when it comes to student support is the same as Global Village and other groups are experiencing: how do we get students to want to come out, socialize and take part in what’s happening? As I was told Friday, that is the million dollar question!

    I know this challenge only included a trip to one of our restaurants — however I did want to touch on a couple of comments made in regards to the cost of living at Park Point. Park Point was designed as an upscale, luxurious living option for local college students. While it may not be affordable for everyone, we are priced, in many cases, lower than our direct competition. In fact, when you consider that rental rates are all inclusive, residents (and their parents) are actually surprised to see how affordable living at Park Point is.

    Again, I truly appreciate the opportunity to be part of the Real RIT Challenge and for the opportunity to comment. I welcome any additional feedback and suggestions and certainly would love to be part of future discussions on how to be more integrated with RIT students. Please feel free to connect with me directly any time — wroche@wilmorite.com.

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