This Wednesday the Preservation Board will decide whether or not to sponsor a citizen’s request to nominate 13 Cataract St. for Landmark Designation. If they sponsor the nomination it will move on to a public hearing and to the Planning Board for consideration later this month. If they don’t, it could spell the end for this valuable piece of our history and any possible redevelopment on the eastern rim of the High Falls gorge. In the meantime, North American Breweries, Inc. continues to move ahead with work on their visitor center across the street. No problems posed so far by the big bad historic building across the street.
A new web site, SaveCataract.com , and a mountain of information on Rochester’s endangered Cataract Brewery building has surfaced this week… The accomplished life (and death) of its architect… Original architectural drawings… And new documents submitted by North American Breweries to the Zoning Board (see the section called Offers to Buy Cataract). Ready? Let’s dive right in… (more…)
The spate of recent articles in the D&C regarding local construction projects also means that there will be a great amount of demolition of older buildings and historic properties. Take, for example, the recent decision to demolish the Cataract Brewery buildings in High Falls. The cost to demolish the properties alone—estimated at $800,000 to $1 million—is more than twice the amount for which Genesee Brewery was recently selling the two Cataract Brewery buildings and a large parking lot. That same amount could be used to install a new roof and windows, “button up” the building, and abate the lead paint, within the older “gem” brewery building. Although the oldest Cataract building is currently a “liability” in the words of a developer who recently toured the property, it could actually act as the driver for redevelopment. Historic Preservation Tax Credits, coupled with city, county, state, and federal monies, could pay for at least 30-40% of construction costs, and potentially way more if the City took on the lead abatement costs and Genesee Brewery and its owner, KPS Capital, acted as an investor or partner in redevelopment.
Rendering of renovated buildings and GardenAerial trail
I realize that sometimes it’s a bit difficult to see the potential in something. Especially when that “potential” is hidden beneath layers of mustard yellow paint, rusty corrugated siding, and 25+ years of plain old tired…
The way things look now (click for larger views)
Why, just the other day Howard S. Decker, FAIA said, “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beer Holder.” Mr. Decker is former Principal of DLK Architecture (Chicago) and former Chief Curator of the National Building Museum (Washington DC). He knows a thing or two about buildings, and places that are worth saving for future generations. His highly experienced eyes see the potential in 13 Cataract Street and the neighborhood it lives in.
But what about the rest of us? How can we be sure this building is worth the money and effort it will take to bring it back to life? What is the alternative to demolition? And will we lose our Brewery Visitor Center if we don’t tear this other building down??
Let’s start with an excerpt taken from a document filed by the Landmark Society in 1984 with the New York State Parks and Recreation Division for Historic Preservation…
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.
After the Erie Canal was rerouted south of downtown Rochester, the Rochester
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