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Genesee Brewery announces brew pub, demolition plans

Zack Seward
Genesee Beer Brand Manager Janine Schoos (foreground) checks a photo of the view from the future terrace of the Genesee Brew House. In the background is one of the buildings the brewery plans to demolish.

The good news: Rochester's Genesee Brewery is spending $2.6 million to transform an old packaging building into a brew pub and visitor center.

The bad news: It's also proposing a $600,000 demolition of two historic buildings, including one that's at the center of a nascent online campaign. (Saturday 11:05 a.m. UPDATE: There is now an online petition.)

Company officials say the "Genesee Brew House" should be open by late April 2012. Rich Lozyniak, CEO of Genesee parent company North American Breweries, says the adjacent buildings will be razed to make room for parking, pending proper approval.

"We don't want to make an investment in this facility and have a deteriorating building right next door," Lozyniak said at Friday's announcement.

"Very exciting news"

Inside the future brew pub building Friday, Lozyniak and company officials laid out plans for the two-story Brew House.

The renovated building will feature a working microbrewery, pub-style food and a rooftop patio with uninhibited views of High Falls and the Rochester skyline.

"It's the best view in Rochester," says Lozyniak.

Plans for the Brew House also include a "park-like setting" for the adjacent lots.

"I honestly think this could be the catalyst for the development of High Falls that everybody was looking for years ago," said Lozyniak.

Planned demolition

The brewery had been trying to sell the ornate 1900 building across from the future Brew House since February, according to Lozyniak.

"We had over a dozen different developers go through the facility," Lozyniak said. "They all came to the same conclusion: While it is a very unique building, the amount of capital required to get it structurally sound and commercially viable was a huge number - somewhere in the $5-to-$10 million dollar range."

Lozyniak says there has "literally been no maintenance done to it" over the last 25 years. The assessed value of the building is $187,900.

"We had no takers," Lozyniak said.

Lozyniak cited safety concerns - both structural and crime-related - as one of the primary reasons for razing the distinctive structure.

"There are a lot of very, very great people in the community who have expressed interest in it," Lozyniak said of the building. "I think the big challenge they've had is the funding. Getting a check written for $5 or $10 million in this economic environment is very hard."

North American Breweries has invested about $20 million in the Genesee Brewery over the last two years, according to company officials. In 2012, the company says it plans to spend another $14 million to upgrade its Rochester facilities.

Below are photos from Friday's announcement.

WXXI/Finger Lakes reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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