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On The Fence Between 933 University Avenue & Eastman House

April 15th, 2013

Initial proposed design for apartment complex at 933 University Ave.
Okay, so I’m on the fence – sort of. Remember this proposed apartment complex at 933 University Avenue? After the Eastman House and other neighbors complained about the design, Morgan Management went back to the drawing board (or Photoshop or whatever) and they came back with this…

Revised design for apartment complex at 933 University Ave.
Quite a difference. The new design is much more in keeping with the architecture found in the East Avenue Preservation District. But has Morgan succeeded in mitigating the impact on the historic district? Is a modern interpretation of an English Manor really any better than than the original modern design? Perhaps.

Monroe Voiture building [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
Rochester’s Planning Commission and Preservation Board will review this case in the coming months. They’ll have to consider the impact of the demolition and new development on the surrounding neighborhoods. This is what sits on the site currently. The Monroe Voiture building (map it external link).

Monroe Voiture building. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
Admittedly, I’m having some trouble finding much historical information on this property. However, we know the George Eastman House next door is fairly historic. So what would the real impact be on that historic property? Here’s a snippet from an official George Eastman House statement external link

George Eastman House opposes this project, which we believe is fundamentally inconsistent with the East Avenue Preservation District and with the purposes of the recently zoned Planned Development District 14—George Eastman House, which is comprised of the George Eastman House, Hutchison House and Monroe Voiture (40 & 8 Club) properties. The new apartment building would have a grave effect on the views from several parts of our property, including the main entrance to the Museum, the East Lawn, the Rock Garden, and many rooms in our National Historic Landmark house. The latest plan clearly demonstrates a desire to exploit the proximity to Mr. Eastman’s estate by placing a swimming pool approximately 20 feet from its property line.
This project will also present significant challenges to the Neighborhood of the Arts, straining limited parking spaces and adding traffic congestion on a two-lane avenue. In the face of vociferous objections by neighborhood residents, Morgan Management recently unveiled a third project design, but the revised design—the number of apartments was reduced from 105 to 102—did little to mitigate the adverse effects of an apartment building at this location.
Since 1975, within the East Avenue Preservation District, the Rochester Preservation Board has permitted the construction of an aggregate of fewer than 100 residential units, none of which were in a building taller than two stories. The proposed apartment building would more than double this number. The demolition of the 1920s house on the property would be the first removal of a principal structure in the East Avenue Preservation District in nearly 30 years.

Ok. So the big issues are the view from the Eastman House, a new swimming pool 20 feet from the property line, anticipated parking challenges, traffic congestion, and the demolition of a 1920′s structure within a Preservation District.

933 University Ave. plan view.
Here’s the proposed site plan for 933 University Ave. The Eastman House property would be on the left. The dark green trees are existing trees which will remain. The light green trees would be new plantings. I have to say I like that the parking is hidden in the center of the complex. Looks like an improvement over the giant exposed parking lot that’s there now.

933 University Ave. aerial view. The Eastman House and gardens are on the right.
Now here’s an aerial view of 933 University Ave. The Eastman House and gardens are on the right.

933 University Ave. aerial view. The Eastman House and gardens are on the right.
And the same aerial view with the proposed site plan superimposed. Note the location of the pool. Currently there’s a long row of snow plows parked there. I don’t know. If I were Mr. Eastman I think I’d prefer to look at the swimming pool. But what would the view actually look like from the Eastman House? Morgan Management put together some simulations for us…

The current view looking east from the Eastman House gardens.
Here’s the current view looking east from the Eastman House gardens. Pretty nice.

View of proposed development as would be seen from the Eastman House gardens.
Now here’s the same view from the Eastman House gardens but with the proposed development in there. You may have to squint to find it. I’ll help you out – it’s behind the greenhouse (you can click any of these images for a larger view).

View of proposed development as would be seen from the Eastman House gardens in summer with foliage.
Here’s that same view during the summer months, with foliage on the trees.

I guess I’m not really on the fence. I just don’t see what all the hub-bub is about. To be honest with you, even the original modern design didn’t bother me all that much. It was different yes. But the proposed building is on University Ave. which is already a fairly eclectic street in a place called “Neighborhood Of The Arts.” It’s not East Avenue – although this new design could certainly be placed on East and blend right in. In fact, I’d almost expect NOTA residents to complain next about the revised design being too stodgy for their artsy neighborhood.

There IS one concern that I agree with. The demolition of a salvageable 1920′s building in a Preservation District, does seem to set a slippery precedent.

Do you have strong thoughts on this case? What am I missing? Hit the comments below and try to convince me one way or the other.

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This entry was posted on Monday, April 15th, 2013 at 8:00 am and is filed under Opinion, Rochester News, Urban Development. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

46 Responses to “On The Fence Between 933 University Avenue & Eastman House”

  1. Peter says:

    The Eastman House complaining about this is ridiculous. Do they not notice the gigantic factory across the street? Is that historic enough for them?

  2. Chris says:

    Not to post a useless comment, but I generally agree with everything here. I am disturbed with the demolition of historic building fabric, but if that proves to be a non-issue then everything else is fine. Both renders look okay.

  3. Doug says:

    I feel that right now the area right there on university is more of a dead space. Across the street has some life but that section doesn’t really seem very attractive. I think building this apartment complex would liven it up and make it more attractive. There’s nothing I hate more than empty parking lots. As for the 1920s building, I wouldn’t want to demolish something of value, but at the same time I don’t know what is there of value except for a old building.

  4. Lucas says:

    The updated render seems a bit nicer, IMO. I think the original modernist design looks a bit strange.

    Also, if you’re having a hard time finding historical info on that building, what would we really be losing?

  5. Adrian says:

    If development is restricted in the East/University/Park Ave area, it will be pushed out to Brighton/Pittsford instead. That means more driving to work, more driving for errands, etc. Putting more places to live in the East Ave area, especially multi-unit developments, can only help in terms of creating more walkable neighborhoods. So any barrier to development in these neighborhoods should be pretty high. IMO, both designs (the original interesting one, and the new boring one) are easily justified.

    The really silly thing is that the Eastman House isn’t considering the fact that most likely, most of the residents of the new development will become members at the Eastman house!

  6. Jimmy says:

    I thought I heard somewhere that the Eastman House wanted to expand to that property eventually, but they don’t have the money to do so at this point. But if that rumor is not true, then the George Eastman House complaining just doesn’t make sense to me.

  7. While I do agree with most of these comments, I still wonder, what about the issue of this demolition setting a dangerous precedent for future demolitions in Preservation Districts?

  8. Rick says:

    When you visit the grounds, you’re reminded at every turn that you’re in a densely populated area. Putting an apartment complex next door will not make that much worse than it already is.

    Seems like the GEH should have bought the adjoining lot when it came up for sale. Probably a lot of money, but worth it if they could cover the costs. In fact, if over time they buy up more adjoining lots, they could control more of what happens around them.

    Maybe the GEH just needs to put a wall up along that part of the property, similar to what Sonnenburg Gardens has. Would quiet down the noise of the pool and hide eyesight level views. Then add some more trees to the lot.

    As for the designs of the new buildings, either one would fit East or Univeristy. The first reminds me of “750 East Avenue” (http://goo.gl/maps/UrQUD). The second, every other old “mansion” in the area.

    I hope GEH takes this as a wakeup call and starts looking at budgeting money for buying (read: controlling) lots around them.

  9. Carl says:

    I just don’t get all the fuss. I guess I would be concerned about the future as well but these guys are building in an area that is mostly vacant. They also seem very accommodating.

  10. ELF says:

    I really didn’t mind the first design either. That part of University Avenue has a lot of old industrial buildings. I think people were comparing it to the architecture of East Avenue, which is kind of invalid.

  11. irene says:

    I think this project helps fill in the fabric of University and makes the area more walkable and lively. It’s a good thing. As for the designs, I find the first one more interesting. The second looks fake traditional. But the second one does bring the building right to the sidewalk, which is good, and I seem to recall it addressed some other concerns like bulkiness of the building.

  12. ELF says:

    I attended the meeting the Eastman House had on this awhile back, BTW. Yes, they do want that property but the director admitted they were “asleep at the wheel” (his words) when the opportunity arose. There was a representative of the Landmark Society there too whom I thought was rather overwrought(and I usually support the Landmark Society) and childishly picked on an audience member he had a disagreement with. Then there was the NOTA resident clutching his manly pearls over more renters moving in until others pointed out that NOTA is a neighborhood of both homeowners AND renters. I can only assume he was unaware of the lofts at the Village Gate and what appears to be a Section 8 complex on the corner of Merriman and Atlantic.

    I was an ardent opponent of the Dollar General on West Main. For me, the difference between Westminster Church and the Monroe Voiture is that, as someone else pointed out, the historical value of the latter is dubious. Westminster has a valuable, documented place in the heritage of Rochester’s German-American community and contributes to the Susan B. Anthony Neighborhood in that it was built in Anthony’s lifetime. There’s really nothing special about the Voiture building. You want Tudor-style architecture from that era, there’s already plenty around the Park-East area in much better shape and much more distinctive.

  13. Todd says:

    If they demolish the Monroe Voiture building … then where are they going to park the sidewalk snow plows ??

  14. Carl says:

    I just realized my post was a little vague. What I meant was the area/plot that Morgan would be building on is basically vacant except for the Monroe building. I have to agree with you Elf, I don’t see the historical significance of the Monroe thingy. I believe the apartments will actually look better. You would almost think that someone was planning to put a family dollar on University the way some people are up in arms.

  15. Rottenchester says:

    If you agree that the Voiture building doesn’t have much historical value, and if you’re concerned about precedent, here are a couple of thoughts:

    1. Preservationists already have the reputation that they fight everything just to fight it. (I don’t agree with that characterization, but it is out there.) Fighting this would feed into that stereotype and weaken your arguments for other historical buildings, because you’ll appear to be knee-jerk opponents of “progress”. And if the building were preserved, it would be a key example used to argue against forming other historical preservation districts, letting opponents argue that once the district is formed, common sense goes out the window and the neighborhood is “frozen”.

    2. Once they bought the property and decided what to do with it, GEH would have come up with many reasons for tearing down the Voiture building. So they’re using the historical district argument as one of convenience. Letting big institutions like GEH use preservationist arguments to hypocritically advance their agenda also weakens the cause of preserving historical buildings/sites because it makes it look like a tool of convenience wielded by powerful, big-money institutions to advance their interests.

  16. Michelle says:

    Part of why I like living in the city is the proximity to various historic neighborhoods. I’d like to see Rochester’s urban development plans include more historic preservation. Why can’t we focus on historical sites that could be repurposed? As an aside, that second drawing is a poor representative of “historic.” The first illustration presents a more inviting, unique place. Though, I think it would look funny in that space.

  17. Arqtet says:

    I agree that the Monroe Voiture Building does not really present anything significant to the architecture of the area. It is just old.

    I feel that the fake “old” style architecture gets really tiring for me. I hate preservation areas forcing all buildings to look “historic”. What are we going to have in the future for buildings if the ones we construct now don’t reflect the place and time within which they were constructed.

    We need to push the boundaries, and allow more new buildings to reflect the time with which they were built in. IMO, the NOH would be enhanced by this development, and a modern building would fit the art of the area. The Gleason building has been nicely renovated and has a very modern interesting feel.

    On one hand we argue against sprawl, and on the other hand we complain about density. We need to find a balance, which I think is inherently present within this district.

  18. adrian says:

    arqtet – 100% agree!

  19. conan says:

    This is nothing more than a NIMBY argument about not wanting to have any more neighbors. If the neighborhood is worried about increased traffic, why don’t they press for more transit options? Also it would not be a bad thing for the city to have more taxable properties, something with an assessed value higher than a parking lot.

  20. Peter says:

    The GEH should be begging for this development to happen. Instead, they are rejecting bringing 100+ potential customers/members/whatever you want to call them right into their backyard. The people that would be able to afford this kind of housing seem like the people that would patronize the Eastman House.

  21. Jim Fraser says:

    I think it would useful to focus a bit on process.

    As several commenters have pointed out, the case made by GEH is weak on a few key points. Perhaps the real objection is they weren’t consulted during planning. As to the significance of the existing structure, Rochester has several experts in that area, and they are not hiding. If the developer can get Cynthia Howk to say the original Tudor structure is unimportant, they will get no further complaint from me.

    Collaborate, Rochester, it’s not that hard. My guess is, parts of the existing building can be removed without serious objection. GEH can be persuaded to shift its position. Morgan seems willing to adjust its plans. What’s needed is a conversation.

    The New Urbanists advanced a planning device called a charrette. They are a great way to channel disagreements over priorities before they escalate into open conflict. In Rochester, charrettes have been underutilized. The current system of hearings and ordinances rests on the assumption of conflict as the path to rational decision-making. It’s brutish, unjust and obsolete. Lets reform the process to require stakeholders to negotiate to some level of mutual satisfaction before permits are issued.

    How can that work? Read Andres Duany, it’s all in there.

  22. Charles says:

    The architecture is the same as Erie Harbor along Mt Hope, minus the colors (same arch. firm). I don’t think it resembles the historic architecture but I don’t think it needs to. In NYC new and old clash all the time and usually the contrast is stimulating.

    If taxpayer money is not being used I don’t think I care about the specific project but I do ask, like others, how does this development fit into the future master plans of this neighborhood/ city (sustainable – leed, balance of uses, mobility choices, etc…).

    Sadly, it may actually relate to the street frontage better than the GEH, but this is understandable.

    I am sure most the businesses wouldn’t mid some more Filling-in.

  23. Joel Helfrich says:

    A few comments:

    1.) Keep the original design. It fits better with the NOTA vibe/feel.

    2.) Move the existing building, minus the addition, to another location along University.

    3.) Use materials on the new buildings along University so that they blend in even more with the various additions that GEH has constructed over the years. That way, when GEH visitors look that direction, they will see the same stone, etc.

    4.) Close one of the two GEH exits along University — the driveway closest to the new buildings.

    5.) Flip the drawings so that the pool and parking lot for the new buildings are on opposite sides.

    Problems addressed and solved.

  24. Joel Helfrich says:

    Morgan Management should purchase dual household memberships for each unit in the new structure: http://www.eastmanhouse.org/get-involved/membership.php.

    Alternatevely, there is the George Eastman Society: http://www.eastmanhouse.org/get-involved/membership/society.php

  25. Rick says:

    4.) Close one of the two GEH exits along University — the driveway closest to the new buildings.

    Those exits are terrible anyways. You’re completely bind to someone walking down the sidewalk there.

  26. Jackie says:

    My two cents: the GEH is not just any old historical home, it is pretty much the White House of Rochester, and, additionally, houses the International Museum of Photography. Arguably, it is Rochester’s biggest asset. Imagine the effort that would go into planning *any* structure near a museum in DC! Frankly, I am shocked the GEH was not *required* to be consulted.
    When i compared the photos of the gardens, i noticed immediately an imbalance caused by the insertion of a massive building behind the greenhouse, clunkily shortening the focal point of the lawns beyond and of the vista, such as it is now. In this city where avid devotion to focal point and panorama were once paramount, it seems tragic to mar that particular view.
    I believe that the design’s proximity to the street presents a rare instance of inappropriateness in *that particular spot.* But if they *have* to fit in a pool, well, by all means…
    I like modern design, but found the first effort to be crass, while the second presents a quite unpleasant ‘face’ to the world. Lucky me, I’ll get to view it frequently, whatever transpires.

  27. Malcolm says:

    Actually, we should get the Gleason Works (built in 1905, at nearly the same time that Eastman completed his home) and all of the other nearby factories fully operational, as they were when Eastman was alive, so that guests to the GEH can get the exact feel of what Eastman experienced in terms of pollution, and business and industrial activity, while he was alive.

  28. Adrian says:

    I like Malcolm’s idea. Perhaps we can dump horse dung in the street in front of GEH for the true authentic experience.

  29. Jason Haremza says:

    If the GEH has such an “avid devotion to focal point and panorama” and didn’t want to “mar” a particular view that the saintly George once gazed upon, then perhaps they should have thought of that when they built the much more visually dominant museum building to the left of the greenhouse in the rendering in question.

  30. Jackie says:

    lol! ok, that’s the last time i post anything when sleep deprived.

  31. Matthew Denker says:

    I’ve been staying out of this thread. I’d like to see a modern design here, but the first one isn’t it. It looks too much like a school. In any event, the new design is fine. I’m not convinced of the historic value of the Voiture building, and going further, considering all the much more historic mansions that were bulldozed for the highway, as compared to for apartments, a building of this level should be let go. Note that it was “fake” architecture at the time it was built too, not unlike the new building.

    Anyway, the new adaptive housing across the street has not yet caused a traffic and parking nightmare, and neither will this. This area deserves some real love. Despite being walkable and offering a number of amenities, it also has a number of large, unbuilt lots (that are probably brownfields, but could be remediated). This offers a great possibility to really build up in a neighborhood that can support it. Lots shown here:http://goo.gl/maps/umFoO

    On a very long term basis, the development here should be mixed use (Gleason Works helps with that). Any initial heavy rail in Rochester is likely to be commuter (DMU) style on the existing right of way that CSX and Amtrak use. This is a really excellent spot for a stop.

  32. Aw, this was a really nice post. In idea I would like to put in writing like this additionally – taking time and actual effort to make a very good article. but what can I say. I procrastinate alot and by no means seem to get something done.

  33. Yeah so the City Newspaper has given it’s official position on this. Mary Anna Towler says the project should be denied.

    And I’m now officially not on the fence. I disagree…

    http://bit.ly/16qcllO

  34. See the proposed new parking lot by George Eastman House… https://sites.google.com/a/geh.org/933-university/

  35. Matthew Denker says:

    I continue to be mesmerized about the argument that goes something like this: Place X is already pretty dense, so there doesn’t need to be more density. How does one make this decision? Further, where better for more density than places that are already dense? That’s exactly how one gets amenities. How one stops driving so much. How one walks to something. I mean, by this math, development should ONLY happen in greenfields in Rush, and should never happen in Rochester, even as the city continues to shrink. It hasn’t gotten any smaller physically, so where have the hundred thousand people gone? Where did they live before? How is the current density anywhere near where it used to be? All these questions will go unanswered as the “oh God no more density” is just an excuse to keep new neighbors out. And God forbid those new neighbors be renters. Renting is the act of the devil. Only poor people rent. But the rent is too high! You’ll never get anyone to pay $1500 a month in this neighborhood.

    MIND BLOWN.

  36. Matthew Denker says:

    Oh, and to GEH’s credit, a parking lot is almost always a better with a given place in Rochester than a building. But is that really what we want? More of this:

    http://goo.gl/maps/eMjRQ
    http://goo.gl/maps/PC0EX
    http://goo.gl/maps/CO6Qa
    http://goo.gl/maps/som3i
    http://goo.gl/maps/8ePWX
    http://goo.gl/maps/nKwzo
    http://goo.gl/maps/qrVmj

    I would go so far as to say that there is probably room for more cars than people in the neighborhood (especially once you add in on street space). Is that what we’ve come to? Just mass storage for cars and to hell with people? Sad.

  37. rottenchester says:

    Reading Anna Towler’s worries about too many people living on that stretch of University Ave, I wonder why she doesn’t just cut to the chase and rename her newspaper “Suburb”.

    That said, overall, the piece struck me as just some old-fashioned water carrying for her big advertiser, GEH. The facts in the piece show that GEH treated the Voiture vets so badly that they’ve poisoned the well with them. So GEH’s fallback is to trot out a bunch of weak-ass arguments via their mouthpiece, City, and hope that the Preservation Board buys them. GEH’s vision of development for that site is to re-landscape the parking lot. If there’s anything that Rochester doesn’t need it’s a better looking parking lot.

  38. Arqtet says:

    Is Charleston, SC too dense? How about the North End of Boston? Montreal old city? Any European city?

  39. Mary says:

    Having grown up on Portsmouth Terrace, I understand the importance of preserving the nature of the “feel” of the neighborhood.
    The new building negatively impacts this in two main ways: 1 – the size of the structure basically fills the lot; 2- the height of the structure and its presence will loom over the great lawn of the GEH (even their newer building preserves that view).
    Homes and even the Gleason building in the area all have setbacks that put the property into perspective: this structure, walking or even driving, from the sidewalk is “in your face” so to speak. And likewise, from the lawn of the GEH it will change the landscaping. The rendering of the new building from the GEH is very cleverly presented: let’s see a rendering from the lawn or from the second floor of the house!

    Finally: the trees in the neighborhood are priceless and also deserve mention: this project is going to take down several 100+ specimens. Especially in relation to the GEH side yard. How does this action help the Preservation of the area?

  40. Matthew Denker says:

    @Mary – While I disagree with the siting concerns (there are numerous buildings in the district built to the property lines, and quite a few taller than this), I can definitely understand the concerns about the loss of mature trees.

    This is the kind of concern that a developer should be cognizant of, and the kind of place that can make for good compromise without the complete abandonment of a project. Every effort should be made to preserve mature trees in place, and ones that cannot be replaced should be mitigated by the planting of new street trees, the reforestation of park space (perhaps at the Neighborhood of the Arts park a few blocks away), and the adoption and care of mature trees in the neighborhood by the developer.

  41. Russ Shaner says:

    Having read all of the comments here and the complete statement and letter to the Preservation Board from Bruce Barnes, I fully support the position that the Eastman House has taken. With all due respect to Rochester subway.com, with whom I usually agree, I believe that this proposed project is absolutely short sighted and wrong for the area.

    As Mr. Barnes has pointed out, very little demolition of significant structures and very few additions of high density or high-rise housing or other offending structures has taken place in the area in the past 35 years or so. When we think back in shame to the wanton destruction of much of Rochester’s architectural history that took place in the name of ‘Urban Renewal’ and ‘progress’ roughly between 1950 and 1975, it appears that the current generation of planners and developers in this city has lost sight of the tragic mistakes of their predecessors. On this wonderful website Mike has reminded us of many of these losses – the Bragdon Railroad Station and YMCA, the RKO Palace and many others.

    Many people are probably unaware that Rochester nearly lost our arguably most important piece of history, the Eastman House Archives and collections. When very foolish management of the GEH announced that the archive would be given to the Smithsonian because they couldn’t afford to manage it, The community rose up in arms, decried this lunacy and the money was found to restore the mansion to a living museum and build the state of the art annex to retain, maintain, expand and preserve for the future generations of Rochesterians this vital asset. I believe that if this current ridiculous proposed project dies and if the Eastman House’s proposal is allowed to be fully developed and proceed that our Grandchildren will thank us.

    The proposed complex is for 100+ apartments. However, I see parking for 25 cars at the most. OK, that takes care of visitors. Where will the residents park?

    Yes, the proposal calls for the tearing down of only one of the remaining ‘mansions’ in the area, and yes, in its present state it looks sad. With the unsightly additions removed and replaced by a suitable addition for the Monroe Voiture should they wish to stay there and some carefully planned integration into a thoughtfully developed site plan (such as that proposed by GEH), I see a win/win for Rochester and the neighborhood now and into the future. The developer should roll up his plans and find a neighborhood with less history and fabric to tear asunder in the name of profit.

    In many ways Rochester is on the right track with the rescue and repurposing of many of our ‘old buildings’. I believe that this proposed project is a step backwards. Yes, it’s only one old tired mansion but that mansion sits at the crest of a very slippery slope. Perhaps the Eastman house doesn’t have the funding to make their plan happen immediately, and I agree that they were derelict in acting sooner, but let’s not punish them for it.

    One only has to drive a few blocks southeast and circle the block from East Avenue, down Hawthorne Street to Park Ave, to East Blvd and back to East Ave and look at the amazing additions to and renovation of the FLW Boynton house to realize that there are people in this City who can do and have done the “right thing”.

  42. Russ Shaner says:

    Sorry,
    In my next to the last paragraph I meant to say that the GEH was derelict for NOT acting sooner.

  43. Matthew Denker says:

    I wish I were against this development so I could help the naysayers by making more coherent arguments.

    Okay, first, I’ve already pulled the car ownership numbers for this neighborhood when I wrote about 759 Park. For a development of this size (102 units), you would expect there to be 122 cars. The plan is for 132 spaces inside the building (which is why you can’t see them on the render) and 32 outside. If anything, this is massively too much parking. Needless to say, with this much extra parking, GEH might be better served to work out some kind of lot sharing agreement. In any event, the GEH plan is a joke. What, exactly, is historic about a parking lot? If they were proposing to build an annex here, I might be interested, but such is not the case.

    Second, GEH is not being punished, they’re just losers. Why should they be rewarded by getting what they want anyway despite being foolish? Punishing them would be to take things away from them on top of building this development.

    Third, if this site is such an issue, and the GEH is so interested in making amends, why are they not working their partnership with Gleason Works to swap underutilized land with Morgan? They’re not interested in a path forward, they’re interested in putting on the brakes. And frankly, why should I believe GEH when they say they will actually build what they are proposing?

    Fourth, nothing has happened here in ages is not a good excuse for nothing happening now.

    Fifth, and finally, lamenting the loss of this inconsequential building is failing to see the forest through the trees. There are a number of under-preserved gems in Rochester that are more deserving of money than this one. In fact, what should be done is pressing Morgan to provide money to repair and restore the neglected historic sites of much higher value than this one in Rochester. This Voiture/(insert random other thing)-building-at-all-costs mentality is what pivots the preservation argument from something worth caring about to something one can use for barring the door against new neighbors.

    Look, I’m a huge fan of both development and preservation. I’m particularly interested in the intersection of the two (restoration/adaptive reuse/facadomy/oh my). There are coherent arguments to be made against building this exact property in this exact spot, but just saying no is not the answer. Especially when there is a large benefit to the neighborhood and city, in the form of new neighbors who are not car-dependent, and to the Voiture, with respect to new space and reduced maintenance costs. When the “preservationists” in the area are willing to make a case that these benefits can be provided some other way (or are willing to put up their own money to stop this from happening, I suppose), then they will have a case worth listening to.

  44. Rottenchester says:

    Well said, Matthew. WRT GEH’s “punishment”, it rots an institution, rather than strengthens it, if the institution believes that they will get their way whether or not they treat others in the community fairly. If apartments are built, GEH’s administration probably won’t try to pull the same trick they tried with the Voiture anytime soon.

  45. I want to make everyone here aware of a forum coming up on this very issue… Development in Preservation Districts.

    “The Landmark Society is partnering with the Park-Meigs Neighborhood Association to hold a public forum on the evening of Tuesday, May 21. Up for discussion: the timely and controversial topic of new development in preservation districts. A panel of speakers, representing developers, homeowners, business owners, urban planners, and The Landmark Society, will offer their perspective, followed by an open question and answer session. These are just some of the questions we’ll try to address: Can new development benefit preservation districts? How can the new co-exist with the old? What is ‘good’ development?”

    May 21 | 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. | The Lutheran Church of the Incarnate Word, 597 East Ave. | Free and open to the public… http://landmarksociety.org/event/public-forum-development-in-preservation-districts/


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