UPDATE: 84 & 86 S Union Project


Submit your comments by 8/25

Plans call for conversion of the Ambassador apartment building into a hotel, which would result in the demolition of 84 S Union St, immediately to the left in the above image.

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).

86 S Union St. This mid-19th century house is slated for demolition, to be replaced by a lawn.

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.

What can you do?

Queen Anne house fronting Union St at 84 S Union, slated for demolition to make way for a hotel addition.


UPDATE: 84 & 86 S Union Project


4 thoughts on “UPDATE: 84 & 86 S Union Project”

  1. We do not need another under used hotel in Rochester,however we need rental space and destroying a beautiful well kept historic structure is next to criminal for a project that seems doomed to fail.

  2. I could find an email address for you, so this is what we sent to the City:
    To whom it may concern:
    The ACE Neighborhood Association strongly opposes the plans to demolish two beautiful and historic homes on Union Street.
    Too often in the last few years the City has moved to destroy beauty in the name of “progress”. The architecture of our history, that helps to define us as Rochester, is quickly being lost. With each lovely home destroyed a piece of what draws people here and makes Rochester attractive is lost. In most cases the generic structures that replace them have nothing to contribute to our future and nothing to tie us to our past; they could be anywhere. Indeed, the plans re-used everywhere.

    People love to live in interesting homes and people are enjoying living in the two homes considered for destruction. No amount of modern “accoutrements” can replace the comfort and pleasure that comes from living these dignified and beautiful homes with their exquisite craftsmanship.

    Rochester has built thousands of apartments in the last eight years, yet our population has not increased. We believe that it is time to re-evaluate our approach to planning. Let us work to preserve what makes us different and consider less what developers want and more what we need. We believe that a more wholistic approach is needed; to see what is wonderful here and preserve it for the future.

    We ask that you help to preserve these treasures for the benefit of those who live there now and for the enjoyment of future residents, tourists, and all who value Rochester’s unique contributions to architecture and history.

    Respectfully Submitted,
    Co-chair A.C.E. NA

  3. These buildings should at least be listed as Designated Buildings of Historic Value (DHBV)’s, a designation that under the zoning code requires a variance for demolition. the fact that these National Register eligible buildings are not listed points to the need to update that list to include all National Register eligible buildings, something that should be done under the ZAP zoning update process, currently underway.

    Since this project is in site plan review, that means there at least some deviations from the Center City design standards. In return for allowing any deviations, the city should demand that these buildings be saved.

  4. Why demolish when it is totally unnecessary? And demo!ition is not climate friendly and wastes materials. We desperately need a circular economy.

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