Rochester, N.Y. – The Landmark Society is asking Genesee Brewing Company
to rethink plans to demolish 13 Cataract St. to make way for parking for a visitors center planned for an old warehouse across the street.
Built more than a century ago as the Standard Brewing Company, the structure has been vacant for many years. It’s in very poor shape. But Wayne Goodman, head of the Landmark Society, said he has seen worse buildings rehabilitated.
“That building can’t be rebuilt. It’s impossible. The materials, the architecture…you can’t do it,” Goodman said.
Genesee officials say they have exhausted all options for developing the building. They’re looking for a viable plan and the amount of work needed on the structure has been cost-prohibitive to prospective buyers.
Nevertheless, Genesee officials plan to meet soon with the Landmark Society, according to a spokeswoman.
“I think that if every building that’s in bad shape Is demolished we wouldn’t have too many buildings left,” said Goodman.
The brewery must get a city variance to tear down 13 Cataract. It has a designated historic value, meaning it’s eligible to listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Genesee must get the okay from the Zoning Board of Appeals. A hearing is scheduled December 15 and a decision expected in January.
Peter Siegrist, a planner with the City of Rochester, said it’s rare that such applications come before the board. “We haven’t lost a historic building in years,” he said, adding that while 13 Cataract is “special,” it’s a difficult building to reuse.
At least one nonprofit group would like 13 Cataract. The GardenAerial
project toured the structure and hoped the brewery would donate it. GardenAerial envisions lush greenery on the High Falls pedestrian bridge, with parks on both sides of the river. The group sees Cataract as special event or wintergarden space. GardenAerial, however, does not yet have funding for the idea.
“You might remove this historic building and end up with a parking lot,” said Michael Philipson of GardenAerial. “We think that there are better uses for that space.”RochesterSubway.com’s
Mike Governale has been blogging about the 13 Cataract in an effort to save the building. There is also a petition drive.