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Exchange Street building conversion in progress

Project includes high-end apartments and office space

By: Denise M. Champagne//December 27, 2011

Exchange Street building conversion in progress

Project includes high-end apartments and office space

By: Denise M. Champagne//December 27, 2011

The building at 44 Exchange Blvd. will have a mix of high-end apartments, with high-tech amenities for those who work from home, and 25,000 square feet of customizable office space. Denise M. Champagne

New high-end apartments in the center of the city will be available for lease before the end of next year.

The building at 44 Exchange Blvd. will also have 25,000 square feet of customizable office space.

“This is going to be a very exciting project,” said Mort Segelin, facilities manager and leasing agent for Riverview Rochester LLC, which purchased the property about 10 years ago.

The office space is on the lower level, first floor and part of the second. Segelin said the office space is going to be built out in a shell and will be completed subject to tenant specifications. He said one tenant would be ideal, but that the space can be converted for multiple tenants.

“We’re looking at any number of possibilities,” Segelin said. “We’re in the discussion stages right now with several tenants.”

The building will also include 24 work-live energy-efficient apartment units with the latest technology. Segelin said they are designed to attract people who want to work out their homes. Each unit will have fiber optic cable and cable television. For those not looking for a home office, the room may be used as a second bedroom.

“They’re all going to be relatively higher-end units,” Segelin said. “We are contemplating a second-level roof garden. That is the discussion stages.”

He said there will be a lot of windows for natural light and nice views of the four corners at Main Street and Exchange Boulevard, as well as those at Exchange Boulevard and Broad Street, across from the Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial, overlooking the Genesee River.

Segelin anticipates the rent for the apartments will range from $800 to $1,200 a month and that office space will be about $12 per square foot. Next to the building will be parking, which will feature a state-of-the art security system, including visual surveillance.

Construction started about two months ago and is expected to be completed by the fall of 2012. Segelin said the building has a new roof and all the windows will be replaced, along with many of the sidewalks. The entrance way will be restored to its original appearance.

Segelin said the architect of the five-story building is post-war modernism featuring the last local example of curtain-wall construction in which the windows and the exterior of the building are interlocking.

“We’re trying to retain as much of the original appearance of the building as it existed in 1959,” Segelin said. “The exterior of the building hasn’t changed much. We’re restoring the main entrance to the original design back in 1959. We want to retain that appearance to retain some of the original character of Rochester, as it existed in 1960.”

The building was built by Central Trust Co. in the late 1950s, early 1960s for a headquarters. It most recently housed a local headquarters for M&T Bank, but has been vacant for the last decade.

“The office market just hadn’t materialized in the way we had hoped it would, so we decided to convert it to residential, which is the way of the future for downtown,” Segelin said. “There is a very strong market for people living downtown. People want to be downtown. They like the urban lifestyle and they like to be close to the theater and the arts.”

Segelin pointed to the success of the East End, which includes a mix of residential and retail, and said the hope is to attract a large number of the people to the Four Corners area, between Main and Broad streets.

Riverview Rochester, owned by attorney James V. Philippone (Philippone Law Offices) and Ben Kendig, is investing about $6 million in the renovation with some help through the city including a $1 million Empire State Development Corp. Restore New York grant and a $1.3 million city loan, which includes an incentive to eventually convert to owner-occupied condominiums in order for the city to forgive a portion of the loan.

“What this means to the city is a pretty dramatic trend in the conversion of vacant office space to high-quality mixed-use projects with a real emphasis on urban living,” said Bret Garwood, the city’s director of business and housing development. “This project’s particularly important because of the opportunity of converting it to a condo project.”

The work is being done by R.S. Lindsay Building and Interior. Design is by Bero Architecture PLLC.

“Everybody is local,” Segelin said. “We’re not using any out-of-town construction people or materials. This is strictly local development. The project is moving along quite quickly. We are very excited at the prospect of making a significant contribution to the health and development of downtown Rochester.”

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