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 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 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 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…
November 18, 2011 : Christopher Schiffner, a citizen, starts a online petition 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…
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 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 to 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 email to the Brewery’s CEO and City Hall to show your support for Rochester’s Brewery Square.
Tags: Cataract Brewery, Genesee Brewery, North American Breweries, Rochester, Rochester NY
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