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North American Breweries (NYC) Unveils Plan to Demolish Historic Rochester Building

November 18th, 2011

North American Breweries says they received no viable offers for the building to be demolished, and it impedes the view of High Falls. Both are gross exaggerations.
The following press release was issued today by North American Breweries, the NYC investment firm that owns Genesee Brewery.

In brief, they plan to renovate an old packaging building, turn it into a visitor center, and level two of the last remaining original buildings in the heart of Rochester’s historic brewing district. The press release claims that the new visitor center “hinges” on the demolition of these historic buildings – not because the new visitor center is being built on the land, but because the old buildings impede the view of High Falls.

What the press release doesn’t mention is that one local group, the people behind the Garden Aerial Project and the Greentopia Festival, expressed interest in these buildings three months ago. They want to renovate the old buildings and turn them into office space and a visitor center in partnership with the brewery. I was told North American Breweries turned them down because the money wasn’t right. So it looks like they will spend $600,000 to demolish the buildings instead. ??

This press release comes at the perfect time for North American Breweries. I learned today that they are planning to submit their application on Monday to demolish 13 Cataract St.

Read between the lines (and drink responsibly)…


North American Breweries CEO Rich Lozyniak announces the Genesee Brew House.

Rochester, New York – Officials at the Genesee Brewery today unveiled plans to create a destination for beer lovers that anchors development on downtown Rochester’s Northeast side. Plans call for a $2.6 million restoration of an old packaging center built around the turn of the century. The Brewery will transform the 9,200-square-foot building into the Genesee Brew House, which will celebrate the storied history and experience of the Genesee brand. The proposal for the complex includes a working microbrewery with an adjacent tour and tasting area that offers a first-hand look and taste of the brewing process.

On the second floor, a 45-foot long bar will pay homage to Genesee Beer. Homemade gourmet sandwiches and pub-style food will be available at a counter. Indoor seating will accommodate 80 people, while an outdoor deck and rooftop patio will provide the most spectacular and uninhibited views of High Falls. Once completed, the Genesee Brew House will create another 10 jobs.

According to Janine Schoos, brand manager for Genesee Beer, the Genesee Brew House will help tell the story of a resilient company with a rich history that dates back to 1878. “Genesee has withstood the test of time. The brewery survived Prohibition, the Great Depression, two world wars and countless eras in American history,” said Schoos. “Today, Genesee is regaining its standing in the beer industry. And it’s winning over people across the United States. We want to tell that story.

“We have an initial layout and theme developed but we’re working on the individual elements,” said Schoos. “For months, we have been collecting and organizing our history, artifacts and story so that we can tell it in a way that engages people. We will create a place that immerses people in our culture and helps them truly experience Genesee in a way that is memorable.”

The Genesee Brew House is slated to open in early summer of 2012, pending approval of all applications, permits and licenses. “We hope to begin construction soon,” said Schoos.

During the construction phase, the Genesee Brew House will create work for regional building trades and supportive service firms. The following local firms have been retained: Eric Mower and Associates; Hanlon Architects; Herrick-Saylor Engineers, P.C.; and Marathon Engineering. Upon full project approval, a local general contractor will be named. That contractor will oversee a unionized workforce of local laborers.

“The Genesee Brewery is an incredible part of our rich history and this exciting Genesee Brew House project will help ensure that the Brewery remains a vibrant part of our future,” said Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks. “In addition to revitalizing a section of Downtown, this project will positively impact our local economy through job creation, investments in existing infrastructure, and the attraction of tourists. This is a win-win for Monroe County and I thank North American Breweries for their continued commitment to our community.”

“The plan to build a Brew House on the Genesee Brewery campus is further testament of the renewed success of the proud Genesee Beer brand, which is so closely tied to the history of our city,” said Rochester Mayor Thomas S. Richards. “This is a welcome investment and one more sign that downtown Rochester is on the rise. I am grateful for North American Breweries’ continued confidence in our city and am proud to support this project. I look forward to pouring the first pint.”

The Project Hinges on Removal of Two Brewery-Owned Buildings

A complete and thorough assessment of all the buildings on the Genesee Brewery site was conducted to determine: their feasibility for restoration; useable space; and costs to stabilize the structures. After careful review, the Genesee Brew House development requires removal of two buildings on the brewery grounds. The buildings, which have been abandoned for more than a quarter century, are beyond reasonable repair and pose safety issues for hundreds of employees and visitors daily. The buildings have been for sale for an extensive amount of time. During that period, the buildings were also thoroughly evaluated by engineers, architects and dozens of developers. While numerous parties expressed interest in the buildings, there were no viable offers. Brewery officials and experts concluded that significant damage to the roof and infrastructure, among many other structural issues would require millions of dollars in repairs.

“The buildings pose significant safety issues to our employees and potential visitors,” said Rich Lozyniak, CEO of North American Breweries. “The roof has caved in, the structures are bad and they are beyond reasonable repair. We can’t create a Brew House that will attract people to this area, without taking down these buildings.

Beyond the structural issues, the vacant buildings attract criminal activity. “People break into the buildings and squat there. It’s typical to find drug paraphernalia and garbage all over the ground. A few months ago, two of our employees were mugged in that area. The buildings block the street view,” said Lozyniak. “We want to make this a safe and beautifully developed area where people want to come. We hope this is a project that Rochestarians can get behind.”

Total Project Amenities

The Genesee Brew House project serves as a catalyst for cleaning up and developing the Northeast side of Rochester’s High Falls district, an area that has been neglected for more than 25 years. This development project will:

  • Create a park-like setting for Rochestarians and tourists
  • Provide unobstructed views of the beautiful and scenic High Falls
  • Create safe and ample downtown parking that will make it easier for people to access High Falls
  • Help capture and communicate the rich brewing history of the Genesee Brewery in Rochester, New York
  • Create a destination for beer lovers, history buffs and more
  • Clean up the area that sits across the street from another $3.2 million development

History of North American Breweries Investment in Rochester

To date, North American Breweries has invested about $20 million in its Rochester facilities. The investments have included brewery upgrades, new installation of state-of-the-art machinery, energy efficiency upgrades, new technology and more. The investments have led to the creation of nearly 250 new jobs in Rochester. Another $2.6 million is planned for the Genesee Brew House, which will immediately create 10 more positions.

In 2012, North American Breweries plans to invest $14 million in upgrades and installations in its Rochester site.

“We want to transform our neighborhood from a forgotten and neglected area to a place where people want to come,” said Lozyniak.

“This project is the catalyst for radical neighborhood improvements that will open up access to the under-utilized High Falls, while providing a place where people can discover Rochester’s rich brewing history,” said Lozyniak. “The Genesee Brew House showcases Genesee’s heritage and tradition and allows people to experience it in an entirely new way. We will create a destination with all the amenities to attract people downtown.”

About The Genesee Brewery:

The Genesee Brewery, based in Rochester, New York, is one of the largest and oldest continually operating breweries in the United States and is part of North American Breweries. In 2010, the Genesee Brewery earned the AIB Recognition of Accomplishment, a nationally recognized industry designation for quality excellence in food, beverage, and brewing manufacturing practices and product safety. The brewery makes the classic Genesee line of beers, Seagram’s Escapes, the Original Honey Brown Lager as well as Dundee Ales and Lagers family of craft beers. The Genesee Brewery also manufactures beer and other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages under contracts on behalf of other companies.

Always drink responsibly.

And this is the historic building which impedes their view of the falls…
The building as it was in 1899. [PHOTO: Rochester Public Library]

How You Can Help:

Plan to attend and speak at the Zoning Board’s meeting on Thursday, December 15, 2011. The start time for the Public Hearing is 9:30 AM in City Council Chambers, Room 302A, City Hall, 30 Church Street. Cases 1-5 will be heard beginning at 9:30 AM. The Genesee Brewery Application is Case #5 and will begin at 11:30 AM.

Share this event on Facebook.

Please sign the petitionexternal link, which was started by fellow blogger Christopher Schiffnerexternal link, so we can let them know we’d like our history preserved…

Sign the Petition to Save 13 Cataract Street

See also:
Genesee Brewery to Demolish This Building
Dear Genesee Brewery: Inspiration From Baltimore
Brewery Unveils Official Plan
Help Save Brewing Landmark
Imagine, Rochester’s Historic Brewery Square
Landmark Society Urges Brewery to Rethink Demolition
Prohibition in Rochester

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

This entry was posted on Friday, November 18th, 2011 at 6:30 pm and is filed under Rochester News, Urban Development. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

15 Responses to “North American Breweries (NYC) Unveils Plan to Demolish Historic Rochester Building”

  1. If you are enjoying Friday evening with a nice cold beer from this brewery, put it down on the table and back away. Just back away.

    No more beers from this place. Go get a nice cold one from Southern Tier, or head to your favorite local. But no more beer from the Genesee guys. They are over.

    Save the Cataract.

  2. @Howard, THAT is a BRILLIANT idea. I’m hanging out with my old friend Sam Adams tonight.

  3. I’m not sure a boycott would help at this point, but in case you were so inclined, North American Breweries owns these brands:
    Dundee
    Genesee
    Genny Light
    Honey Brown Lager
    Imperial
    Labatt Blue
    Labatt Blue Light
    Labatt Blue Light Lime
    MacTarnahan’s
    Magic Hat
    Pyramid
    Seagram’s Escapes
    Seagram’s Smooth

  4. The company, when using the Genesee Brewing name, produced one or more lines of Sam Adams. I am not sure if that is true now.
    They also have produced a hard cider product but I can’t recall the name.

    Maybe it’s all the Genny I have consumed in the past, my memory has faded!

    I better get on my bicycle and pedal to the nearest bar to help my memory.

  5. Zack says:

    There is a pedestrian bridge. If you want to see the falls, walk ten feet! Unbelievable. I hope everyone is writing the company.

  6. I just posted a series of pictures I took of 13 Cataract Street last weekend. You can find the photo set here: http://www.schiffner.com/index.php/image-gallery/?a=vg&g=cschiffner_0.14821500_1321670776&r=1

  7. Want to help save this building? Sign this petition which will be delivered to North American Breweries: http://www.change.org/petitions/north-american-breweries-halt-plans-to-demolish-13-cataract-street-rochester-ny

  8. Douglas A. Fisher says:

    Rich Lozyniak, CEO of the building’s owner, says in today’s Democrat & Chronicle that their proposed new project, including demolition of 13 Cataract Street, is “about brand-building. It’s not being done for economic reasons,” he said.

    The new brand-building evidently will include the promotional taglines:

    “Buy our Bland Beer. No Distinctiveness Whatsoever. We Destroy Uniqueness & Preserve the Bland. That’s Our Philosophy. In Buildings & In Beer.”

    Just what the consumer wants: Nothing Special!

  9. Jim Hall says:

    Hello:
    Picture yourself in Red Wing Stadium on a hot sunday afternoon, Boog Powell is up and you hand is around a cold Genny, maybe a hot dog from Russers in the other. Powell pounds one out of the park and you have to keep your Genny from spilling.

    jim

  10. Douglas A. Fisher says:

    Rochester’s threatened brewery landmark is discussed by the brewery CEO on Page Two in the current print edition of the Rochester Business Journal. This article may or may not be available online in a week.

  11. The time to finally take action and speak against the destruction of Rochester’s heritage is upon us. Plan to attend and sign up to speak at the Zoning Board’s meeting on Thursday. We need to fill that council chambers on Thursday; and that means we need all of YOU. If you and I don’t stand up to fight for the city our grandparents and great grandparents broke themselves to build, no one else will.

    DETAILS:
    Thursday, December 15
    City Council Chambers, Room 302A
    City Hall, 30 Church Street

    ADDITIONAL INFO:
    The start time for the Public Hearing is 9:30 AM but the Genesee Brewery Application will begin at 11:30 AM so you don’t have to be there at 9:30. Just be sure to arrive well before 11:30 to sign up to speak. I don’t know how long the meeting will go. Depends on how many people speak out.

    Everyone will have 3 MINUTES at most to speak their mind. So get your thoughts together in advance.

    Please RSVP and share this event with your networks on Facebook.

  12. Random guy says:

    So glad this ugly building is gone, I can taste that tasty beer already. You conservationist people are pathetic, you only care about these empty buildings when someone says they want to take them down but you fine with them being rat invested empty buildings. Rochester is going no where fast and the last thing needed is more stupid office space. Go waste ur time tbthe Kodak building now cuz that’ll be empty soon enough.

  13. Jackrainman says:

    The building was in very poor structural condition and would have cost more to renovate than the owners were willing to spend. If there were so many people who wanted to save this eyesore, then why didn’t you all get together and break out your checkbooks and pay for the repairs? Money talks and bullshit walks.

  14. @Jackrainman, thanks for the comment, but this issue has been dead for so long that it’s almost not even worth getting into it.

    I will say that there were people interested in buying the building. I spoke with these parties. Offers were made. Real offers which could have been considered and negotiated. But the Brewery seriously entertained none of them. They said the building was for sale… but as it turned out, THAT was the bullshit part. It was not (really) for sale. They put it on the market just long enough so they could show the City that they tried to explore alternatives. As soon as interest arose they yanked it and applied for demolition. The Brewery says it would have been cost-prohibitive for THEM and THIER needs. But as soon as alternative site uses began to be explored by developers (brought in by preservation groups), the door was immediately slammed shut by the Brewery, causing any potential developers to lose interest. Who’s going to spend time and money making plans for a property that is not for sale?

    You can find more information about all of this on this blog and elsewhere. Feel free to explore.


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