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Abe Sauer: Who is the Chateau for?

Abe Sauer: Who is the Chateau for?

Who is the Chateau for? Because the current use proposal looks to be another case of Rochester’s tail wagging the city.

In late 2014, Mayor Brede went on KROC and spoke of the Chateau re-use, throwing out all manner of ideas, including a coffee shop, a restaurant, or meetings rooms. He concluded with the statement “Who knows.” Four months later, confirming the city’s intent to buy the building for $6 million, Council President Randy Staver told the Post-Bulletin "There are no preconceived ideas what it would be.” In June 2015, Mayor Brede was again on KROC saying the restoration of the Chateau was going to “be far less” than $10 million, even though a use was not yet clear. And then in August of 2015, Mayor Brede argued that opening the task force to public participation was a hassle, and instead he personally picked its members, many of them people he already served on other boards with.

That privately selected committee produced the current $23 million proposal, more than double the cost Brede bragged about. And while DMC funding will cover renovation costs, DMC will not cover Chateau’s operations budget, estimated in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In March 2017 the city’s $4.5 million Black Box Theater was reported to be sitting unused. Champion of that theater, Mayor Brede, told the Post-Bulletin "I would expect there would be more in there.” And now, Brede’s hand picked group is telling us this $23 million project is exactly what Rochester needs.

Asking about better uses and skepticism toward the viability of a $23 million poorly targeted theater is derided as opposition to the arts. It is not. It’s a legitimate question about exactly whom this Chateau should be for. An especially great question, since we all know who it is by.

Abe Sauer is a Rochester writer and business owner.

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