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.
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.
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.”
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