Rochester, N.Y. — Douglas Sutherland, known for his conversion of historic Syracuse buildings into apartments and offices, is branching out into the Rochester market.
Sutherland said he plans to begin work in June on a $3.85 million rehabilitation of the historic Bevier Memorial Building at 42 S. Washington St. in downtown Rochester.
Sutherland’s Franklin Properties LLC plans to turn the four-story building into 15 loft-style apartments and 5,000 square feet of office space. The apartments will be available for rent in the spring of next year, he said. Syracuse-based King + King Architects is also working on the project.
Designed by Rochester architect Claude Bragdon and completed in 1910, the Bevier Memorial Building was constructed as classrooms, art studios and gallery space for theRochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute’s School of Art and Design. The building sits on the former site of Rochester founder Nathanial Rochester’s home.
The institute was renamed Rochester Institute of Technology in 1944. RIT moved to a suburban campus in the late 1960s. The building was later renovated for offices, but it has been vacant for the past 15 years.
Sutherland said the building is an example of early 20th century arts and crafts-style academic architecture. The building’s 13-foot ceilings and oversized windows make it ideal for offices and loft-style apartments, he said.
The Community Preservation Corp. is providing a $2.7 million loan to the project. In addition, the County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency has approved property tax discounts and sales and mortgage recording tax exemptions. The project is also receiving state and federal historic preservation tax credits.
Sutherland is best known for redeveloping vacant factory buildings in Syracuse’s Franklin Square, including the 92-unit Lofts at Franklin Square apartment building and The Foundry office building. Sutherland also turned the former C.W. Snow Wholesale Drug Co. warehouse at North Clinton and Willow streets in Syracuse into apartments. The state honored that project with an Historic Preservation Award.
Sutherland said the Bevier Building will be his first project in Rochester but likely not his last. He said he is looking at other potential building conversions in the city. Rochester’s commercial real estate market, like Syracuse’s, is relatively soft right now, so he is focused on converting buildings into housing, he said.