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Downtown Rochester’s Glenny Building goes from ruin to residential

The Glenny, formerly the 138-year-old Glenny Building, near the corner of East Main St. and Clinton Ave. in Downtown Rochester. (Photo provided)

At first glance, the re-creation of The Glenny Building from a crumbling, late-19th century department store to upscale apartments is striking.

An East Main Street eyesore for decades, The Glenny now features 25 residential units on floors two through six, with a dash of commercial space on the ground floor and in the sub-basement.

The architectural characteristics of a bygone era were either preserved or reproduced with the look and feel of 1885, from the handmade staircase to the decorative tin ceilings.

“We reclaimed what we could and made the rest to match,” said Luke Dutton, the owner and head of construction for the developer, Dutton Properties. “My goal is that someone who hasn’t ever been here has no idea what’s new and what’s original.”

The truly amazing part, however, is that this six-story, 138-year-old property is still standing.

The building literally was collapsing from the inside out, just one of the many surprises the developers encountered during renovation. Dutton Properties bought the Glenny Building at 190-194 East Main along with the two adjoining buildings as distressed assets in 2013. Once development plans were finalized, repurposing of what they now call “The Glenny” began in earnest in 2020.

Which is when they realized they were in for more than they expected. Or in some ways less.

“The whole rear third of the building had collapsed,” developer Patrick Dutton said. “You could stand on the roof and look to the basement. It looked like a bomb went off.”

Decades of neglect had rotted parts of the structure. Undeterred, the developers moved forward with the project, removing 120 40-yard dumpster loads of materials on their way to rebuilding the inside and creating five apartments on each floor.

Interior view of one of The Glenny's apartments, featuring stainless appliances, an airy, open floor plan and architectural notes that preserve the feel of the 138-year-old building. (Photo provided)
Interior view of one of The Glenny’s apartments, featuring stainless appliances, an airy, open floor plan and architectural notes that preserve the feel of the 138-year-old building. (Photo provided)

The final additions are now being applied and leasing is underway. Six units have been rented. All apartments feature real (not laminate) hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances and top-end fixtures.

“All the little details you don’t think about; they’re all there,” Luke Dutton said.

There are five studios, 10 one-bedroom and 10 two-bedroom units, with rents ranging between $1,400 and $3,400, and each apartment differs in some way because of shapes, sizes, ceiling heights and structural beams that traverse living spaces.

That, of course, is all part of the character of The Glenny.

“People aren’t living downtown for new, cookie-cutter looks,” Luke Dutton said. “Every building has its own charm and its own story. Instead of knocking down these old buildings, you’re getting that story.

“If you want to be in the heart of it all but not have 150 neighbors, this is the place.”

The south side of the building faces East Main and is essentially six floors of nothing but glass, giving residents a unique view of downtown, including The Metropolitan and Lincoln Alliance Building.

“You’re nestled amongst all these tall buildings and you have these great views through all these cutaways through the downtown streets,” Dutton said.

City views are just part of the attraction of living in The Glenny, as well as the building’s proximity to the heart of downtown.

Those windows that create the view of Main Street and beyond also were one of the many hurdles the Duttons encountered. Because of their size — two windows alone are each 100 square feet — and because of historic preservation requirements, they were nearly impossible to find.

Area firms said they could take on the job, only to find out they didn’t have the capabilities, Luke Dutton said. After a year and a half, the developers finally located a firm in Poland that could make the windows.

“We sourced as much locally as we could,” Luke Dutton said. “Almost everything is locally sourced and/or U.S. made.”

Finding a window manufacturer was just step one of the procurement process. Next came delivery, followed by installation. They had to shut down Main Street to truck in the finished product, then needed special equipment to lift them into place. Now, however, they’re one of the distinct qualities of The Glenny.

“You shut the windows, you don’t know you’re in the city,” Luke Dutton said.

The building’s heating and cooling system is also unique to Main Street — and most of Rochester. The Duttons installed their own geothermal wells behind the building, beneath the parking lot that sits along Mortimer Street.

Those 27 wells will heat and cool the building, with unused energy recaptured. The commitment to all-green, renewable energy means significantly lower monthly utility costs for tenants, Luke Dutton said.

Work is now underway on a rooftop deck, which is also quite rare for downtown.

The ground floor commercial space is ready for buildout once a tenant or tenants are found. Patrick Dutton calls the search for a tenant deliberate leasing.

“We want to identify the need and then fill it with someone who is serving a role or helping to build the environment in the city,” Patrick Dutton said.

The Glenny is the first building on the block to be renovated. The Duttons plan to create a boutique hotel in the building immediately to the west, and Home Leasing is in the beginning stages of redevelopment of the buildings on the corner of East Main and Clinton Avenue.

“Our goal is long-term viability for this section of downtown,” Luke Dutton said.

Said Patrick Dutton: “I assure you: In five years we’re going to look pretty smart because of what comes in behind us. We feel very confident in the future of downtown.”

[email protected]/(585) 653-4020

At last: DRI funding will restore Clinton & Main, other blighted downtown areas

Home Leasing's plan to redevelop four blighted buildings at or near the corner of East Main Street and North Clinton Avenue will receive $4 million in state funding through the Downtown Redevelopment Initiative
Home Leasing’s plan to redevelop four blighted buildings at or near the corner of East Main Street and North Clinton Avenue will receive $4 million in state funding through the Downtown Redevelopment Initiative. (Photo by Kevin Oklobzija)

Even as Dutton Properties tackled arduous rehabilitation of long-ignored properties in the 100 block of East Main Street, the eyesore at the corner remained: a deteriorating trademark of a bygone era.

Once a bustling center of commerce, the northwest corner of East Main Street and North Clinton Avenue for two decades or more has been a collection of blighted buildings begging for either demolition or rebirth.

Gov. Kathy Hochul at Monday's news conference to announce $10 million in Downtown Redevelopment Initiative funding
Gov. Kathy Hochul announces $10 million in Downtown Redevelopment Initiative funding on Dec. 6. (Photo courtesy of New York State governor’s office)

“You go by this and it just taunts people, it tells you there was once a place where people wanted to be, and we lost the luster,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said. “That symbol of urban decay has been crying out for a vision for a long time.”

Which is why, regardless of how nice Dutton Properties could make the refurbished Kresge and Edwards buildings look, the architectural carnage on the corner would always devalue the neighborhood.

“Properties that don’t get redeveloped and are blighted have an impact on properties around them,” said Vincent Esposito, senior vice president for regional economic development for Empire State Development.

Enter New York State’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI). Tasked with creating vibrant, walkable, economically thriving neighborhoods, the DRI is awarding state funding to cities and towns across New York to help bring their downtowns back to life.

Hochul announced on December 6 how $10 million in DRI funds would be split among five projects in the heart of downtown Rochester, with East Main and North Clinton as the cornerstone of the revitalization effort.

“Until Main and Clinton is vibrant again, Rochester won’t be fully back,” Hochul said. “This is about a vision for a part of the city where it was desperately needed.”

The projects to share funding:

  • $4 million for transformation of the four mixed-used buildings at Main and Clinton. Home Leasing is under contract to close on the purchase of the buildings by spring and begin creation of 11 workforce-rate housing units as well as four ground-level commercial spaces.
    “These are all important projects, but ours is probably the most important because it’s in the worst shape,” Home Leasing CEO Bret Garwood said.
  • $1.75 million to redevelop the Edwards Building (26-34 St. Paul St.) into 114 market-rate apartments as well as ground-floor commercial space. Dutton Properties is the developer.
  • $1.265 million to turn the Kresge Building in a 28-room boutique hotel, also by Dutton, with food and beverage establishments on the ground floor.
  • $1.385 million for development of Alta Vista by the Ibero-American Development Corp. on mostly unused parking lots between Pleasant and Franklin streets and North Clinton. The six-story, new-build would create 76 mixed-income housing units, with space reserved for survivors of domestic violence as well as the Landmark Society of Western New York.
  • $1.3 million for creation of Main Street Commons, an outdoor walkway featuring dining and libations that connects St. Paul Street to North Clinton. The goal is to divide one long “super block” into two pedestrian-friendly blocks.

“This will be transformational for our city,” Mayor Malik Evans said of the five projects.

Rochester was awarded the $10 million in DRI funding last year and was tasked with soliciting development proposals, vetting each one and then submitting its choices to the state for approval.City officials initially earmarked DRI money only for a two-block section of East Main Street, but the local planning committee expanded the development area approximately two blocks north and two blocks east. That enabled inclusion of the Ibero-American project.

“That’s why the process works,” Esposito said. “The local planning committee was able to bring forward that project. Now you have a six-story, multi-income housing unit on what otherwise has been unused surface lots.”
Home Leasing has been lining up funding for the proposed East Main/North Clinton project but needed the DRI support in order to move forward.

“This is the most important piece; this is the crucial piece,” Garwood said.

Said Esposito: “One purpose of the downtown redevelopment initiative, as Secretary of State (Robert) Rodriguez said, is to provide state support when redevelopment needs a little extra love.”

The approval of the project was a relief for the mayor and city officials, who have been embarrassed by the corner’s appearance.

“I kept saying it was an abomination, and I’m glad New York State agreed with us,” Evans said.

The refurbished building will be called The Mayflower, a tribute to the donut shop (Mayflower Doughnuts) that once graced the corner. While creation or re-creation of commercial real estate space is not Home Leasing’s forte, the building’s location makes it a necessary element, according to Garwood.

“We’re careful about how much commercial space we have but this needs to be non-residential,” Garwood said. “We’re pretty confident we will find the right tenant.”

Investing in five projects in one area at the same time ramps up the revitalization efforts, the governor said.
“This is a new era — this is a new beginning,” Hochul said. She said that with typical redevelopment, there is investment in one project.

“And every few years you can invest a few million and then you wait a few years and invest again,” she said. “Having that amount of money concentrated into one small, defined area, you can have a transformational impact. It’s going to look better at the same time. You will feel and experience the difference.”

[email protected]/(585) 653-4020

All Electric Campaign’s first year celebrated at energy efficient building downtown  

The AMPED Go All Electric campaign recently celebrated its one-year anniversary with a private tour of Dutton Properties’ newest sustainable mixed-use project – the former Glenn Darling building at 190-194 East Main Street in Rochester.  

The AMPED Go All Electric campaign recently celebrated its one-year anniversary with a private tour of Dutton Properties’ newest sustainable mixed-use project – the former Glenn Darling building at 190-194 East Main Street in Rochester.
The AMPED Go All Electric campaign recently celebrated its one-year anniversary with a private tour of Dutton Properties’ sustainable mixed-use project at 190-194 East Main Street in Rochester. (submitted photo)

Community leaders and electrification advocates were invited to a clean energy celebration and behind the scenes tour of the downtown project that embodies what the AMPED campaign is all about – organizations using electricity instead of fossil fuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save money and benefit public health.  

The tour included an inside look into the historic building and its new geothermal heat pump system. Dutton Properties’ leaders hope the fossil fuel free system may one day power most of the city block, as part of their plan to transform the mostly vacant section of Main Street into a corridor of shops, pedestrian access and sustainable living.  

In addition to the tour, green energy advocates learned about building and fleet electrification progress from a variety of organizations across our region, to show that beneficial electrification is not only possible, but happening in the area. 

Luke Dutton, co-owner of Dutton Properties, said the building – which was constructed in the 1880’s – required extensive work. 

“We’re bringing it back to life in a way that preserves the history, while incorporating the latest technology for energy efficiency,” Dutton said. “We know residents are going to love it, and we’re confident the system will help bring in commercial tenants that will have a positive impact on the neighborhood.”  

The AMPED campaign is a partnership of 20+ local institutions representing over 10 sectors promoting beneficial electrification throughout the 9-county Genesee/Finger Lakes region.  

Because most local emissions come from building heating systems and on-road vehicles, the AMPED campaign’s impact is two-fold.  

One half focuses on beneficial electrification in buildings, such as the Dutton’s downtown property, and the other half focuses on electrification of vehicles, like the fleet an organization uses for deliveries. 

[email protected] / (585) 653-4021