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Developer's Plans for Sibley Building Discussed

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Rochester: Developer's Plans for Sibley Building Discussed
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The managing principal for Winn Development, the company that recently bought the Sibley Building, visited Rochester on Thursday. Winn plans to redevelop the twelve-story building by incorporating three separate elements under one roof.

It's the name that's supposed to breathe life into one of the city's historic buildings, and Thursday, the man behind the big project came to Rochester to discuss the plans in person.

The Massachusetts-based Winn Development company isn't new to the area. It's had a regional office in Rochester for the past ten years.

While its backed by notable projects throughout the Northeast, the Sibley Building is a unique one.

"This property has been vexing the community for many years. It's a very tough property, very big, central, a lot of emotional attachment to the community. They're very well positioned to take on a big project like this," said Heidi Zimmer-Meyer, Rochester Downtown Development Corporation.

There are big expectations. In 1939, Sibley was the largest department store between New York City and Chicago.

So how does Winn plan to get Sibley back on it's feet?

"We have the financial capacity to be long-term owners and I think we are bringing a new energy to the city and we believe in it so we're going to spend time and money," said Gilbert Winn.

Winn says the key elements to success is mixing office and retail with residential. During two housing phases, Winn will develop mixed-income housing and condominiums on the top floors.

"One of the things we are working on is a rooftop green. We could do a winter garden up there which could appeal to the students as well as office users," said Winn.

But innovation doesn't trump tradition. The tower clock and grand entrance-ways will remain in the new design.

The city says its still hoping to persuade Monroe Community College to keep its downtown campus at the Sibley Building. Winn says their focus is on moving full speed ahead with their development plans in the hopes that Sibley's transformation will speak for itself.

"What we're focusing on more than changing their mind is doing a bang-up job at the building over the next year or so, showing them how good our campus can be and hopefully continue that conversation," said Winn.

And in the meantime, developing a property that will appeal to a diverse downtown area.

"There's just going to be a whole new population, RIT next door, a whole new population downtown and we're looking to serve all their needs."

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