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!

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

Statewide Preservation Conference a rousing success!

We wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who helped make the New York Statewide Preservation Conference such an incredible success! Attendees joined us, and our Conference Partners, the Preservation League of New York State, Preservation Buffalo Niagara, and AIA Rochester in filling in the blank with definitions of preservation going beyond the traditional terminology throughout many different events and sessions. The conference was a wonderful mix of professionals, grassroots community activists, students and preservation enthusiasts.

Putting together the conference is a major undertaking for our office, with the entire staff involved. We all had different levels of involvement, experiences and tasks while at the conference so we wanted to gather some reflections on the weekend from a few staff members.

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Larry Francer with one of our FILL IN THE BLANK name tags encouraging attendees to write their definition of preservation.

The energy of the vibrant East End combined with the conference keynotes, sessions and parties was infectious.  The attendees glowed as they, “Filled in the Blank.”  Preservation is a joyous part of our lives.
-Larry Francer, Associate Director of Preservation

IMG_3791_resized

“Sneaky Preservation” speaker, Dana Saylor-Furman

I was so excited to see such a great number of preservation colleagues and grassroots preservationists from across the state and western New York! We had great presenters, great topics, generous sponsors, and enthusiastic attendees. Like any preservation success story, the people and the place combined to create a dynamic atmosphere, full of new ideas, thoughtful debate, and even a few provocative calls to action. From sneaky preservation to rust belt revitalization; opera houses to education; urban neighborhoods to small towns—we covered it all. The range of topics really demonstrated the many benefits of preservation and the diverse audiences and communities it can serve.

It was truly an honor to have Donovan Rypkema as our keynote speaker and Ed McMahon as our Saturday Breakfast Speaker. If you consider yourself a preservationist, a planner, a community advocate and you haven’t heard what they have to say, I encourage you to start googling. If nothing else, you’ll be entertained.

I came away from the conference reinvigorated and with a renewed commitment to challenge commonly held assumptions and to push myself to constantly seek new preservation strategies.
-Caitlin Meives, Preservation Planner

Saturday speaker, Ed McMahon of the Urban Land Institute, at the newly remodeled East Ave Inn & Suites.

Saturday speaker, Ed McMahon of the Urban Land Institute, at the newly remodeled East Ave Inn & Suites.

It didn’t matter that they had been going since 7:30 or 8 a.m. That they had been to keynotes, presentations, vendor tables, etc.  By all rights they should have been exhausted.  But they stood and talked and talked with each other, with presenters, with staff. You could feel the energy buzzing off them, generated by their conference experience. It was like no one wanted to leave!
-Cindy Boyer, Director of Public Programs

Our friends from ReHouse, one of the many vendor tables set up at The Little Theatre.

Our friends from ReHouse, one of the many vendor tables set up at The Little Theatre.

It was an incredible joy to spend my entire day working for the Landmark Society; surrounded by preservationists, while catching sessions full of engaging content & interesting perspectives. We were excited by the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Conference social media presence and hashtag, so we wanted to try our hand. Leading up to, and throughout our conference we used the hashtag #NYPresConf on Facebook and Twitter. Check it out for more conference content- especially from speakers and attendees who were awesome posting throughout the weekend! During the Conference I decided what better day than today to create a Landmark Society Instagram, so follow us there too as we grow the account. It was a fun, new challenge for me to post as “live” as possible to our various social media outlets during sessions and events-I hope you enjoyed the updates. Let’s have even more content for next year’s #NYPresConf!

I want to reiterate Caitlin regarding our keynote and Saturday speaker, they were amazing! I especially enjoyed Ed McMahon’s talk Saturday morning and live tweeted many of his concepts with the #NYPresConf hashtag-check it out for some inspiring one-liners today.
-Anika Lindquist, Office & IT Associate

Our first Instagram photo of our Conference HQ, The Little Theatre in Downtown Rochester.

Our first Instagram photo of our Conference HQ, The Little Theatre in Downtown Rochester.

Working at Stone-Tolan Historic Site, I could not attend most of the conference. I did however attend one session on Friday morning that I enjoyed very much. I observed many people engaged in animated conversations, clearly enjoying the venue. It was a great idea to partner with The Little Theater and WXXI for our annual preservation conference.
- Beverly Gibson, Horticulturist

Thank you to all of the speakers, vendors and attendees who spent time with us for the 2014 Preservation Conference! Our enormous gratitude to our Title Sponsors Rochester Colonial and Bergmann Associates, the generous support provided by The Rochester Area Community Foundation and Daisy Marquis Jones Foundation, as well as all of the additional conference sponsors , without the support of all of these businesses and organizations this incredible event might not happen.

Partners-Sponsors

See you next year!

 

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!

YUP Launches New Coaster Project

Abilen_beforeafter

The second official Young Urban Preservationists (YUP) event features the launch of our WHERE THE #&@% AM I?™    historic pub/bar coaster project at Abilene Bar and Lounge, 153 Liberty Pole Way in Rochester on Friday, May 2 beginning at 6 p.m.

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.  “Maybe at some point these were buildings that were abandoned, neglected, left to squatters, scavengers, and the elements,” said Caitlin Meives, our Preservation Planner and fellow YUP. “Maybe they were labeled ‘eyesores’ and dismissed as a pile of bricks. But they were also reinvented—given new life by visionary entrepreneurs, investors, and local business owners. Oftentimes, their transformation has helped transform the neighborhood around them.”

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.

Anyone interested in preservation and community revitalization is invited to join the Young Urban Preservationists and to attend the public launch of the WHERE THE #&@% AM I?™  project at Abilene on Friday. Membership is not required for these events and there is no registration required for Friday’s event.  Plus, your first drink is on us!

 

$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!

Young Urban Preservationists Launch Party

Introducing the Young Urban Preservationists! We are a new group of youngish folks interested in preservation and community revitalization. We come from various walks of life and various professions—lawyers, planners, doctors, veterinarians, architects, writers, artists—but we all have one thing in common: we care about our communities and we believe our historic resources play an important role in any community’s revitalization.

What does “young” mean? Whatever you want it to! We’re targeting those oft-maligned by the media “millenials” (aged 20 to about 40) but, more importantly, we want to connect with like-minded people who are invested in their communities and are young at heart.

Our kickoff event is at Black Button Distilling on Friday, March 28th. We’ll treat you to tours of the newly rehabbed historic space and some light hors d’oeuvres. Tastings of your choice of beer, wine, or liquor will be available for $5. Additional tastings for 50 cents.

Space is limited so reserve your spot now!
Eventbrite - Introducing The Landmark Society's Young Urban Preservationists!

#NYPresConf Session of the Week

The 2014 Statewide Preservation Conference theme is: FILL IN THE BLANK: Defining Preservation, A New York Statewide Conference. Join us in Rochester as we seek to expand the traditional definitions of preservation and to reach new audiences by challenging some of the common misconceptions about the field. We want to know what preservation means to you and what it could mean to others who are working to better their communities. So, join us in April to help Fill in the Blank.

Leading up to the Conference we’re featuring a Session of the Week to highlight one of our many sessions that are helping to broaden the definition of the field of preservation.

In celebration of the launch of our Young Urban Preservationists (YUP) group this week we are featuring a session from some fellow YUPs- Dana Saylor-Furman, Old Time Roots, Meagan Baco, HistPres.com and Benjamin Woelk- Co-Producer/Director of Slow Road Travel and their presentation Sneaky Preservation: Making Advocates through Emotional Experiences with Place.

Photo courtesy of John Carocci

Photo courtesy of John Carocci

Too often, preservationists face an uphill battle against unsympathetic government, new build-centric developers, and large organizations that don’t understand how historic buildings can fit into their portfolio of projects. What this requires is an engaged public, ready willing and able to stand firm for what is right and economically beneficial. However, if we can’t get people off their couch and out into the real world (Facebook slacktivism doesn’t count!), how can we make change?

Christa Glennie Seychew for Buffalo Spree Magazine

Christa Glennie Seychew for Buffalo Spree Magazine

This presentation will include success stories in engaging people in place through “sneaky preservation.” Much of the talk is inspired by lead presenter Dana Saylor’s experience as Event Planner for CITY of NIGHT at Buffalo’s grain elevators, where she realized the potential to change people’s mind about place by giving them an emotional or sentimental experience-based connection.

2014 City of Night event banner designed by Jon Furman

2014 City of Night event banner designed by Jon Furman

In Dana’s words:

Photo courtesy Dana Saylor-Furman

Photo courtesy Dana Saylor-Furman

I have learned a great deal about preservation through trying to save a building (that was ultimately demolished) and then, thoroughly demoralized, by avoiding preservation (by throwing a giant art party at Buffalo’s historic grain elevators). It was this avoidance that brought me full circle- to realize that my event, CITY of NIGHT, as it enters its third year, has transformed people and place, which is exactly the point of preservation, and good urbanism. Today, the relevance of the preservation movement is at stake; we must better learn how it can engage communities in new ways. This can be done by observing the successful work of people in cities, towns and rural areas, no matter how it is branded, and applying their lessons to what we all do.

This session is perfect for anyone with enthusiasm and passion for their community and its historic resources. Be prepared to discover outside-the-box ideas and inspiration for sharing your love of preservation and raising awareness throughout your community!

>>Click here to register now!

>>Click here to learn about other exciting session offerings.

>>Click here to read up on our other #NYPresConf sessions of the week.

Feeling social? Stay up to date on Conference happenings and share your thoughts using the hashtag #NYPresConf on Facebook and Twitter.

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