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Genesee Brewing ready to move ahead with museum plans

George Moses, executive director of NEAD/Group 14621, and Nancy Sung Shelton, president of Group 14621, look over the model of the project they would like see on the site of Genesee Brew House project Monday. On Wednesday, it was announced that the city was giving permission for construction to begin on the site. Vasiliy Baziuk

The Genesee Brewing Co. hopes to start construction next week on a new museum and festival site it hopes will transform the Northeast Rochester neighborhood.

“We’re very very happy and ecstatic that we can finally start work on this phenomenal project,” said Rich Lozyniak, CEO of North American Breweries, Genesee’s parent company.

His company had received approval for its plans in January from the city Zoning Board of Appeals, after which area preservationists sought to preserve the tower building at 13 Cataract St. as a testament to the city’s early brewery history.

The Rochester Preservation Board voted last month to nominate the structure for landmark status and then voted Wednesday night to grant landmark status, but the approval was rejected by the Planning Commission a few minutes later.

Lozyniak said the project involves three abandoned buildings at the gorge overlooking High Falls. North American Breweries has permission to demolish two of them. The site of one will become a parking lot and the other, the subject of the controversy, will be made into an open festival site, mostly used for concerts.

The third building, a 110-year-old structure, will be restored into a tourist center with a museum, microbrewery and pub. Lozyniak said the upstairs will be a brew house featuring beer and pub food.

He hopes to get the necessary permits sometime early next week to start building before the end of the week; opening sometime in August.

“We think this is not only good for the brewery, but is going to be really transformational for our neighborhood,” Lozyniak said. “That’s what was so wonderful about [Wednesday] night. The support of our neighbors really spoke volumes. I think that’s what really made this possible.”

He said employees and construction workers also turned out. Among those in attendance was George Moses, executive director of Northeast Area Development/Group 14621 Community Association Inc. who led neighbors on a “Walk in Our Shoes” tour Monday in support of the brew house project.

“We’re very pleased with the Planning Committee in terms of helping to set a precedent as to how we’re going to designate buildings historically,” Moses said, noting more emphasis will be placed on including neighborhoods and other stakeholders when considering structures for landmark status.

“We look forward to Genesee Brewery moving forward with their project and adding the new brew house,” he added.

The $2.6 million project was originally slated to open April 27.