Submit your comments by 8/25
In March, we let you know about a project that was up for Site Plan Review with the City of Rochester. That project, located at 84 and 86 South Union Street, was calling for the demolition of two historic houses in order to construct an addition to an apartment building (known as the Ambassador) that was to be converted to a hotel.
The Landmark Society was opposed to the project for several reasons:
- 86 S. Union, located behind the apartment building, was to be demolished to simply create additional “green space” for the new hotel.
- The other house up for demolition (84 S. Union) faces Union St. and is a highly intact example of Queen Anne architecture.
- Renderings showed the complete removal of the historic Ambassador building’s most character-defining feature, the front entrance.
After receiving written public comments, the developer went back to the drawing board and modified some elements of the site plan. The new site plan is now available to view on the City’s Site Plan Review Agenda website (zoom in to South Union St on the map, click on the blue star icon, then scroll down in the pop-up window to view links to PDF renderings and drawings).
Our takeways on the new plans:
While the newly released renderings appear to retain the historic entrance to the Ambassador, the project still calls for the demolition of two historic houses. The Landmark Society objects to the unnecessary demolition of historic buildings that provide housing for city residents.
Why we object to these plans:
- Both houses slated for demolition are in good repair and provide housing for city residents.
- 84 S. Union St. is an excellent and intact example of the Queen Anne style and has high visibility on Union Street.
- When evaluating our stance on the potential demolition of a historic building, we always take into account the circumstances surrounding the project and the mitigating factors that might result in a net positive outcome for the community.
- In this case, we do not believe that a large hotel addition merits the demolition of 84 S Union, especially when a large surface parking lot remains undeveloped on the other side of the property.
- In the case of 86 S Union, an empty lawn or “green space” certainly does not justify the demolition of a historic building.
- On the whole, this project does not seem to provide a benefit to the community that would balance out the loss of two historic structures. Instead, it will displace residents from a large apartment building.
The public can submit comments on this project until August 25th and we encourage you to do so. Unfortunately, none of these buildings have any protections through the City’s Zoning Code. This means, there is no enforcement mechanism through the City Site Plan Review process to prevent the demolition of these historic properties.