On Friday officials at the Genesee Brewery unveiled plans they say will “create a destination for beer lovers that anchors development on downtown Rochester’s Northeast side.” Before we get too excited, let’s think.
Firstly, did you know Genesee Brewery is owned by a New York City investment firm called KPS Capital Partners? KPS Capital Partners established North American Breweries, Inc. in 2009 to manage its brewery acquisitions. One of those acquisitions was our beloved Genesee. They will tell you North American Breweries is headquartered in Rochester. But Genesee Brewery is no longer a locally owned company.
North American Breweries says their planned “Genesee Brew House…will celebrate the storied history and experience of the Genesee brand” and that they want to “tell the story of [this] resilient company with a rich history that dates back to 1878.” But to do this they will demolish this building; the centerpiece of Rochester’s historic brewing district, built 1899.
North American Breweries says “while numerous parties expressed interest in the building, there were no viable offers.” The local non-profit group behind The GardenAerial and Greentopia Festival offered to take the building as a donation so that they could renovate it, and, possibly in partnership with the Brewery, turn it into a visitor center with a glass enclosed public wintergarden and office space. The Brewery said they’d rather have the money. But now they are prepared to pay $600,000 to demolish it.
If that offer wasn’t viable, then at least give the community time to put together the kind of public/private/non-profit partnership that it takes to save structures like this. There IS interest now that these demolition plans have been publicized. Another 6-12 months isn’t going to change anything.
North American Breweries says removing the building will “provide an unimpeded view of High Falls” from their new visitor center. That’s funny, the falls are clearly visible in this photo taken from the roof of the proposed visitor center…
North American Breweries says the removal of the building will “create safe and ample downtown parking that will make it easier for people to access High Falls.” Okay, parking? I’m not even going to address that one. Look around you. We tore buildings down left and right in the 60’s and 70’s to make room for parking. We’re still picking up the pieces.
North American Breweries says they want to “create a destination for beer lovers, history buffs and more.” Trust me, history buffs are not in favor of the destruction of the actual history for which they buff. You know what I mean.
North American Breweries says the building is structurally unsound. These photos were taken on July 24, 2011. Does this building look structurally unsound?
The people in the photos above were potential buyers on a walk-thru. They sent me these photos and confirmed the building is a mess, but not structurally unsound. I happen to work in the High Falls neighborhood and regularly walk by this building. It’s of the type of construction (concrete, brick, steel) that lasts. …Which reminds me, all those vacant buildings along Brown’s Race on the other side of the pedestrian bridge… many of those are much older, were in much worse shape, but are now fully restored and occupied by residents and businesses.
KPS Capital Partners has no interest in Rochester’s history. They simply want to save $9,000/yr by wiping this building off their tax sheet. And who can blame them—they certainly have let the place go.
They say this building “has been abandoned for more than a quarter century, and is beyond reasonable repair and poses safety issues for hundreds of employees and visitors daily.”
This building is vacant, not abandoned. If it has been abandoned, the Brewery is solely responsible.
Rochester has mourned the loss of countless landmarks. We are witnessing history being done to us again. This time by New York City investment firm KPS Capital Partners. They have done a wonderful job turning Genesee Brewery’s business around. However, this community has also supported the success of Genesee for a century.
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.
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Tags: architecture, Genesee Brewery, Genesee Brewing Company, High Falls, KPS Capital Partners, Michael Psaros, North American Breweries, Rochester, Rochester Brewing Company, Rochester NY, Standard Brewing Company
This entry was posted on Saturday, November 19th, 2011 at 1:50 am and is filed under Opinion, Rochester News, Urban Development, Urban Exploration. 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.