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Demolition of 13 Cataract. A Timeline of Events.

March 13th, 2012

A stage where 13 Cataract brewhouse used to be? Not sure if this is serious or not. [RENDERING: Eric Mower and Associates]Yet another press release from the Brewery today. They are clearly on the defensive and changing their story every day. Now they say, “the building at 13 Cataract Street will NOT be replaced with a parking lot. See the attached rendering.”

I’m sorry, I just can’t take this rendering seriously. It looks like an episode of South Park unleashed on our streets. But hold on… if the Brewery wanted to put a stage in the place of the historic 13 Cataract building, why did their plans show a parking lot? Is this rendering real; or clever marketing spin? I think the answer lies somewhere in the Zoning Board’s January 19th decision.

Boy oh boy, this Brewery story is getting complicated. So let’s review the events that led to this horrific rendering issued yesterday. Here’s a timeline:

1889 : Standard Brewing Co. builds a brewhouse at 13 Cataract. A.C. Wagner is the architect.

2003 : City of Rochester adds 13 Cataract to its list of Designated Buildings of Historic Value, protecting the building from being significantly altered without a variance.

February 2009 : KPS Capital Parterns (NYC) forms North American Breweries, Inc. and buys High Falls Brewery (including 13 Cataract). The City of Rochester settles $9.4 Million in previously unpaid loans, taxes, and water bills to clear the way for the sale.

February 2011 : North American Breweries, Inc. lists 7 and 13 Cataract for sale at $395,000.

February 3, 2011 : John Trickey (John Thomas Property Management) sends letter of intent to purchase the buildings for $275,000. The offer is not pursued.

April 5, 2011 : James Costanza (Costanza Enterprises) sends letter of intent to purchase the buildings for $100,000. The offer is not pursued.

August 2011 : The non-profit group ‘Friends of the Garden Aerial’ asks Brewery to donate the building. Brewery refuses.

November 7, 2011 : City officials have a meeting with the Brewery to discuss visitor center plans. Notes from the meeting external link indicate the following: “The earlier proposal seen did not include demolition. Demolition of DBHV [Designated Buildings of Historic Value] requires both Site Plan Review (administrative) and an Area Variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals. City staff suggested that the project be split into two components: the visitor center which could be approved administratively (through Site Plan Review) in a few weeks and the demolition/parking lot which will take more time (through the variance process). City staff also suggested ways to make the variance process easier: e.g. retaining a portion of one or both buildings.” The City also suggested that the buildings to be demolished are important because they frame the street and provide a sense of enclosure. The notes external link include visual examples cited from other cities.

November 15, 2011 : City officials have another meeting with the Brewery to discuss visitor center plans. Again the City advises external link to separate the visitor center project from the demolition of 7 and 13 Cataract. In exchange for sparing 7 and 13 Cataract from demolition, the City apparently offers $150,000 for improvements to Platt Street in the form of enhanced/decorative paving, enhanced sidewalks and street lighting. The City also offers $30,000 of improvements to Upper Falls Terrace Park in the form of expanded park parking lot to serve the entire High Falls area amenities, including the park, Pont de Rennes, and the visitor center. The City advises that retaining all or part of the buildings can make the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR), zoning review, and permitting easier and reduce the potential for negative publicity.

November 18, 2011 : North American Breweries announces plans to use 25 Cataract (a smaller 2-story building across the street from 13 Cataract) as a visitor center while demolishing 7 and 13 Cataract. The plans shows new parking spaces where 7 and 13 Cataract stood…
Plan view of the proposed Genesee Brewery Visitor Center and parking lot. The historic buildings would be removed for approximately 27 additional parking spaces.

November 18, 2011 : Christopher Schiffner, a citizen, starts a online petition external link to save 13 Cataract. RochesterSubway.com collects additional hand-written signatures over the next 3 weeks.

December 4, 2011 : RochesterSubway.com reveals renderings to show what a “Brewery Square” could look like on Cataract Street. The public square is bordered by the Brewery’s planned visitor center, a renovated 13 Cataract, and the future GardenAerial trail at the edge of the High Falls gorge…
A view of what could one day be Rochester's Historic Brewery Square. The Brewery's visitor center (left), renovated 13 Cataract (center) and entrance to the GardenAerial trail (right).

December 15, 2011 : Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals hears the Brewery’s case for demolition of the Cataract buildings. Comments are heard from the Brewery and the public. 20-25 people speak, overwhelmingly opposed to demolition. The board decides it needs additional information from the Brewery and schedules a follow-up hearing for January.

January 6, 2012 : Brewery submits the documents external link requested by Zoning Board. The documents external link include structural surveys, offer letters, and repair estimates.

January 19, 2012 : Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals holds a second public hearing. Many people speak in for and opposed to the demolition. One Zoning Board member declares, “we are not a preservation board.” Zoning Board later voted 5-to-1 to allow demolition on the following conditions:
1) Decision will take effect after 30 days.
2) A scale model of 13 Cataract will be paid for by the Brewery and displayed in the new visitor center.
3) Buildings to be demolished will be photo documented and photos displayed in visitor center.
4a) A ruin wall shall be left to mark the southern edge of the demolished building’s footprint.
4b) Alternate paving material (exposed aggregate or colored concrete) shall be provided within the event site/parking lot and the footprint of the building is to be delineated in the pavement.
4c) A list of any artifacts salvaged from the demolished buildings shall be provided specifying which artifacts will be incorporated into the visitor center.
4d) Signs shall be installed documenting the history of the former site.

January 19 — Today : Local groups including Landmark Society, Rochester Regional Community Design Center and Friends of the GardenAerial work to find a developer for 13 Cataract. Several developers (from Rochester, Syracuse, and Madison WI) express interest and survey the building. Efforts are ongoing.

February 14, 2012 : Rochester resident Carlos Mercado files an application to nominate 7 and 13 Cataract official City Landmarks.

March 7, 2012 : Rochester’s Preservation Board votes 5-to-0 to sponsor the nomination. A public hearing, held jointly with the Preservation Board and Planning Commission, will be held (date TBD).

March 8, 2012 : Brewery CEO Rich Lozyniak threatens external linkto cancel the visitor center project.

March 12, 2012 : As a result of the Zoning Board’s terms and conditions, the Brewery adjusts its plan and releases new renderings of its proposed visitor center. The Brewery says in its press release, “the building at 13 Cataract Street will not be replaced with a parking lot. See the attached rendering.”

There you have it. Instead of allowing 13 Cataract to be redeveloped*; instead of allowing a second private development to take place on the east side of the river gorge, we will have a $1.3 million dollar temporary stage setup in the middle of a parking lot. I presume when there is no concert going on the “colored concrete” area WILL be used for parking.

*Send an emailexternal link to the Brewery’s CEO and City Hall to show your support for Rochester’s Brewery Square.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 13th, 2012 at 12:06 am and is filed under Rochester Images, 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.

5 Responses to “Demolition of 13 Cataract. A Timeline of Events.”

  1. mattyvbrooks says:

    Just to be fair, I wanted to mention that I saw this rendering that included the stage last month in one of the brewery’s original submittals. I couldn’t tell you where exactly it was, it may have been on their website.

  2. Mike says:

    I’m willing to bet that stage will be used, at most, probably 3 months out of the year.

    What will occupy that space for the rest of year?

  3. George says:

    From the outside looking in (from PA), I gotta say that reading the events that have taken place are a bit shocking. How is it that it took this long to get enough people to want to save this building? I have nothing against history, but it seems like no one gave a rip until someone else wanted to do something with that building(s).

  4. @George, I think to say no one gave a rip would be an unfair comment. As noted above, the building was placed on a historical list protecting it from demolition in 2003. The owner of the building (the Brewery) didn’t do this, the people of Rochester did. The building has been incorporated into earlier public charrettes (2007) and downtown master plans (1999) with ideas for reuse—including as a beer garden—making the building a focal point for the area around High Falls. I understand you are not from the area so these things would be foreign to you. But local residents need to be aware of this if they aren’t already. Rochester has an abundance of buildings that need attention—many abandoned—and preservation resources are typically spread very thin. This building has always had an owner. I don’t believe it unreasonable to expect that the owner be responsible for its care and maintenance. Demolition plans were only announced for the first time in November which is when the community took notice. The fact that the building was even for sale last Spring went unnoticed… no formal announcement by the Brewery, no PR… just a real estate listing. Ignorance may not be an excuse, but to say no one cared about this building until now is completely untrue.

  5. Brian M. says:

    Geez, that “party” scene looks depressing, just cuz it’s clearly STILL a parking lot. It might be used as a party-grounds a couple times a year, but other than that? A storage ground for giant glittering cages. From what I understand, empty space/lots are conductive for crime. Look at what Constanza Enterprises did with Station 55! And his offer got declined? Ouuchhhhh.


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