Inside Downtown Tour 2014

The Inside Downtown Tour highlights urban environments where folks are creating exciting spaces to live and work. We visit re-purposed spaces, renovated homes, lovingly preserved places and newly built sites that are designed with sensitivity to the overall built environment. Basically, we get you “in” on the latest urban living trends.

Stay tuned for our location announcement!

Inside Downtown Tour 2014

The Inside Downtown Tour highlights urban environments where folks are creating exciting spaces to live and work. We visit re-purposed spaces, renovated homes, lovingly preserved places and newly built sites that are designed with sensitivity to the overall built environment. Basically, we get you “in” on the latest urban living trends.

Stay tuned for our location announcement!

Bikes, Beer & Buildings – Rochester’s First Bike Scavenger Hunt

Presented by the Young Urban Preservationists

Grab your bikes, your smart phone, a few friends and join the YUPs for Rochester’s first bike scavenger hunt, followed by a few well-deserved drinks at LUX Bar & Lounge. You’ll see some of Rochester’s best known gems and little known secrets, you’ll get some exercise, and you might even learn something new about the Flower City.

Teams of 1-4
$5/person

Meet in Star Alley (662 South Ave. in the S. Wedge) starting at 12:30 PM to get your list of clues and complete the registration process with your Instagram and Munzee account names. We’ll send you off at 1:00 PM sharp. Meet back at LUX Lounge by 3:00 PM. First beer is on us!

>>Click here for tickets and complete details

At Risk Again: 660 W Main

Attend the Zoning Board of Appeals Hearing
Thursday, July 17
Arrive by 11:30-12 p.m.
(This is the last item on the agenda, case #12. Case 8 will begin at 11:30 a.m.)
City Hall – 3rd floor, City Council Chambers
View the ZBA Agenda

660WMain

photo courtesy Mike Governale, Rochester Subway

Background

The former church building at 660 West Main Street in the city of Rochester was constructed c.1870 and was originally home to the Westminster Presbyterian Church. In 1914, it became the home of the Liederkranz Club who occupied it until about 1974. Most recently, the church was owned and used by another religious congregation. The congregation sold the property in 2011 and it has sat vacant and largely unmaintained since that time. Under the City of Rochester’s Zoning Code, 660 West Main is a Designated Building of Historic Value (DBHV).

City Code prohibits the demolition of a DBHV, however, property owners can apply for a variance from the code to allow demolition. The Zoning Board of Appeals considers such applications.

In November, 2012, the owner applied for a variance to demolish this DBHV, proposing to replace it with generic new construction (a sideways strip mall) that would house a Dollar General. The owner also argued that the building should not be on the DBHV list. The ZBA denied the application for a variance and concurred with our opinion that there was no reason to remove the building from the DBHV list.

As of summer 2014, the owner has filed another application for demolition and proposes to replace the historic building with a new single story commercial building (click on the links below to see renderings of the proposed new construction). Now, the new 17,922 square foot building will supposedly house a full line food store.

Our Position

The Landmark Society maintains the same position that we held in 2012 when the ZBA last considered a proposal to demolish this protected historic structure. We support the many residents and property owners in the immediate area of the church who oppose demolition. Here’s why (read our complete comments as submitted to the Zoning Board on November, 2012 here):

  1. Significance as a Designated Building of Historic Value
    Recognizing the historic, cultural, and architectural significance, as well as its importance to the West Main streetscape, the City of Rochester’s Zoning Code has already established that the building can not and should not be demolished. The property owner fails to meet any of the six criteria outlined in Section 120-195 of the City Code that would allow for demolition of a DBHV.
  2. Community Impact & Streetscape
    Demolition and replacement with a building of far inferior quality and design would be a detriment to the streetscape and the surrounding community, particularly in light of ongoing and successful revitalization efforts that are occurring on either side of 660 W. Main. Millions of private and public dollars have been invested in the rehab of historic buildings and in sensitive modern infill just a block away. With growing interest in downtown and walkable urban neighborhoods, it is simply a matter of time before investment and demand spread to this section of West Main.
  3. Building Condition
    Contrary to the reports submitted by the property owner, the building is structurally sound and capable of being adapted to a new use. In 2013, The Landmark Society funded a report by a structural engineer that confirmed the building is indeed structurally sound. Click here to read it.
  4. Redevelopment & Adaptive Use Potential
    While a significant rehabilitation is needed, there is no reason the building could not be adapted to a new use. Placing a new use inside an existing historic building that relates to the streetscape and surrounding buildings would serve the city of Rochester much better than a generic new building. Historic church buildings throughout the country have been adapted to a variety of uses, including bars, restaurants, housing, and event space. Some have even been adapted to house corporate retailers such as pharmacies. The owner has not fully explored reuse potential.

While we acknowledge that not every historic building can or should be saved, we believe that in the case of 660 W. Main, the condition of the building, the concerns of the neighborhood, and the successful revitalization occurring just east of this property, make reuse a realistic option that merits further consideration.

What can you do?

  • Attend the Zoning Board of Appeals Hearing
    Thursday, July17
    Arrive by 11:30-12 p.m.
    (This is the last item on the agenda, case #12. Case 8 will begin at 11:30.)
    City Hall – 3rd floor, City Council Chambers
  • Submit written comments by July 16:
    Jill Symonds, City of Rochester, Bureau of Planning & Zoning, 30 Church Street, Room 125B, Rochester, NY 14612
    or Jill.Symonds@CityofRochester.gov

Architecture For Lunch: Eastman Theatre/ Grove Place

Explore the city’s glamorous East End cultural district in the heart of downtown Rochester.  We’ll meet in front of the world-renowned Eastman Theatre/Eastman School of Music,  a gift to the Rochester community in the 1920s from Kodak mogul George Eastman.  We’ll visit the last remaining VIctorian residential district in  Center City, as we stroll historic Grove Place and discover its quaint 19th-century architecture, whimsical public art, pocket gardens, and dramatic 20th century buildings.  One of the city’s most dynamic neighborhoods, the East End has history, art, restaurants, and activities for all ages, interests and appetites!

Meet at Eastman Place plaza, on East Main Street/corner of Gibbs Street, opposite the entrance to the Eastman Theatre.  Paid parking is available in the Main/Scio St. ramp garage, as well as on-street metered parking along Gibbs Street.

Timed to fit in with busy schedules and weekday lunch breaks, these 20-minute presentations feature information about the history and architecture of downtown Rochester.  Cynthia Howk, Landmark Society staff member and local history expert, will guide itnerested tour goers from 12:10 to 12:35 p.m.  Architecture for Lunch tours are free and open to the public; held rain or shine, for the most interesting lunch break you’ve ever taken.  Meet Cynthia at 12:10 p.m. on June 13, 20 & 27.

Architecture For Lunch: St. Paul Street Garment District

Explore the city’s historic garment district where clothing, shoes, and ties were manufactured for decades.  From the mid 19th to the mid 20th century, Rochester was world-famous for its quality clothing and shoe products, most of which were produced here in the St. Paul/North Water/Andrews street area immediately next to the Genesee River.  Those remarkable industrial buildings have recently been converted to loft apartments, artist studios, professional offices and trendy restaurants.  Because of  its remarkable history and architecture, most of this neighborhood is listed in the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

Meet in front of The Plaza Apartments, 125 St. Paul Street, on the southwest corner of Andrews Street in downtown Rochester.  Paid parking is available nearby in private lots or  at on-street metered parking.

Timed to fit in with busy schedules and weekday lunch breaks, these 20-minute presentations feature information about the history and architecture of downtown Rochester.  Cynthia Howk, Landmark Society staff member and local history expert, will guide itnerested tour goers from 12:10 to 12:35 p.m.  Architecture for Lunch tours are free and open to the public; held rain or shine, for the most interesting lunch break you’ve ever taken.  Meet Cynthia at 12:10 p.m. on June 13, 20 & 27.

Architecture For Lunch: Powers Building/ Four Corners

Come explore the city’s historic “Four Corners” area, where Rochester’s financial, government and banking industries have been headquartered for nearly 200 years. Discover the original 100-Acre Tract purchased by entrepreneur Colonel Nathaniel Rochester, a Maryland resident and founder of our city in the early 1800s.  Learn Rochester fascinating early history as a village, its development as an Erie Canal “Boom Town,” and the remarkable collection of historic architecture that’s located in this bustling neighborhood, including a visit to the interiors of the French-inspired Powers Building and the Italian Renaissance County Office Building.

Powers Building, 16 W. Main Street, city of Rochester.  Enter at W. Main St./front entrance. Parking is nearby in Sister Cities Ramp garage on N. Fitzhugh Street, as well as is paid, on-street parking.

Timed to fit in with busy schedules and weekday lunch breaks, these 20-minute presentations feature information about the history and architecture of downtown Rochester.  Cynthia Howk, Landmark Society staff member and local history expert, will guide interested tour goers from 12:10 to 12:35 p.m.  Architecture for Lunch tours are free and open to the public; held rain or shine, for the most interesting lunch break you’ve ever taken.  Meet Cynthia at 12:10 p.m. on June 13, 20 & 27.

YUP Coaster Project Launch

Join YUP for our second official event at Abilene Bar & Lounge (153 Liberty Pole Way) at 6:00pm on Friday May 2nd where we’ll officially launch our new historic bar/pub coaster project, WHERE THE #&@% AM I?™. 

The coaster initiative will highlight interesting factoids and the rehab of communal gathering spaces and adapted historic spaces that have become some of the area’s favorite bars and brewpubs.

Patrons at the bars will receive a coaster with a QR code where they can access information about the transformation and reinvention of the building. Establishments currently participating include Abilene, 2 Vine, Edibles, Black Button/Rohrbach, Dinosaur BBQ and The American Hotel, in Lima, with more to come!

The first round is on us! No RSVP required, hope to see you there!

$3.6M awarded for Eastman Dental Dispensary redevelopment

Eastman Dental Dispensary [photo courtesy Richard Margolis]

Eastman Dental Dispensary [photo courtesy Richard Margolis]

Today Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that Home Leasing LLC will receive $3.6 million in funding provided by New York State Homes & Community Renewal for redevelopment of the Eastman Dental Dispensary in Rochester! The project will transform this State and National Register of Historic Places listed property into mixed-income and affordable housing units.
>>Click here for the full press release of the funding announcement 

Five to Revive Eastman

We are grateful and thrilled with this news, as the Dental Dispensary was one of our 2013 Five to Revive properties. We can’t wait to see this building restored to its former glory!

>>Click here to learn more about the Eastman Dental Dispensary

Reconnect Rochester wants to know: what could you do with a bus shelter?

Photo Courtesy Rick Urwin

Following the completion of the new RTS Transit Center, the bus shelters along Main Street will no longer be needed to provide shelter for passengers, and these retro beauties could be scraped. But we, citizens of Rochester, could change their fate!

Photo Courtesy Sharon Drummond

Reconnect Rochester has partnered with RGRTA and the City to solicit serious proposals for new uses for the former shelters;

Whatever your idea, write it up, include a drawing or two, and send it to info@reconnectrochester.org along with your contact information and a brief explanation.

Proposals should include:
• your name(s)
• your business or organization name
• contact information
• which shelter(s) you would like to use
• what purpose you would use the shelter for
• when you could start using it
• the length of time you’d use it for
• any other relevant details
• and any illustrations or drawings that might help explain your idea

Proposals will be reviewed by the City and then a meeting will be set up to discuss.

Even if you lack in the artistic department, they want your written idea anyway!

Read more about the shelters and see some ideas on Reconnect Rochester.

Agreeing with many of the comments already posted, a coffee kiosk could be an excellent new use. Here’s an inspiration from my vacation in Burlington, VT last summer.

bluebird coffee

This is such an exciting project to get the community inovlved in place making decisions, what would you do with a shelter?

Submit your ideas to info@reconnectrochester.org now. We can’t wait to see what Rochester comes up with!