Updated 08/31/2012 07:19 PM
Plan to Sell Sibley Tower Announced
Rochester Mayor Tom Richards announced a plan Friday to sell Rochester's Sibley Tower to a private developer.
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"The dental practice has been in this office since 1932,” said Jeremy Leichtner, a dentist.
Sibley Tower has been a landmark in downtown Rochester for over 100 years. Leichtner has been here for nearly half that time.
"I took over for a retiring practitioner."
Leichtner has seen Sibley's rise and fall, with the low point, he says, coming just two to three years ago.
"Seen a lot of changes... a lot of changes. Unfortunately, a lot of them were not for the good."
But for the first time in a long time, Leichtner is excited for change. Friday, the City of Rochester announced a plan to sell Sibley to a company called Winn Development. Winn has a reputation, from here to California, of revitalizing old buildings.
"Projects they've done, all over the Northeast – they've done a lot of historical renovations, so they have experience with historical buildings, and the tacts and other considerations you have to use to make those things a success,” said Tom Richards, (D), Rochester mayor.
The deal is still awaiting approval by City Council and COMIDA. Under the terms of the plan, Winn Development will pay the city $5 million and take on old debt from the previous management.
Meanwhile, the City gives a little, too – surrendering a $1.5 million state-funded lien on the property, and taking on a new 10-year loan for the redevelopment process.
In Dr. Jeremy Leichtner's experienced eyes, it's the plan that will finally bring Sibley, and all of downtown, back to prosperity.
"I see the potential for Sibley building to be a catalyst to bring new life into downtown. I believe it's going to be the Winn Development people that are going to do that."
Richards says even though the city will not be getting all its money back on those old loans, the time is now or never for this development. He calls it a "break from what was," in order to "move on to what will be,” and everyone crossing their fingers it will be a success.