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City to begin soliciting offers for the sale of the historic Armory building

City to begin soliciting offers for the sale of the historic Armory building

The City of Rochester will soon reopen its request for proposals for the future use of the now-vacant Armory building.

The city council was presented with an appraisal for the value of the property — which includes the building and two surface parking lots — at its committee of the whole meeting Wednesday afternoon. The valuation of the building is estimated at $675,000; the two parking lots have a combined estimated value of $1.5 million. All three parcels are owned by the city. 

The council agreed to begin marketing the property for sale, reserving the right to reject any private proposal that does not meet the city's criteria. City officials have already begun showing the property to several interested parties.

Councilor Mark Hickey suggested keeping the process simple, and if there are not any reasonable offers within a specified time window then the city can terminate the process and open the RFP back up for public proposals.

"Just because we get an offer, it doesn’t mean we’re obligated to sell it," he said.

The council first opened the RFP for the building last year. However, only one party, the Rochester Arts and Cultural Initiative, submitted a proposal. That proposition was eventually rejected by the council due to concerns about its business plan and management structure. 

 
 

“This time around we’re underscoring a bit more that’s there an opportunity to buy it, or at least a portion of it,” said Council President Randy Staver.

Councilor Michael Wojcik, an ardent supporter of ACI's plan, said he is open to listening to offers. But he insisted that any proposal from the private market must make sure the building provides benefits for future generations.

"If you’re serious about buying this, it requires strong public purpose," said Wojcik, adding that it will be difficult to win over council members like himself who favor keeping the building in the public's hands.

About 40 supporters of the ACI were on hand for the meeting. They insist their updated proposal, which includes a collaboration with both the Rochester Art Center and Civic Theatre, is the best possible use for the Armory.

"This decision really isn't just about the real estate; it really isn't just about the building or the value of it," said Debi Neville, chair of ACI. "I know that it's a consideration, and that's certainly being responsible on their part, but they really need to take a look at the upmost, highest and best use for the building."

She added, "We're patient and we're strong, and we'll continue to do whatever's necessary to get it front of their faces again."

The council will revisit the topic at its regular meeting on Feb. 6.

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