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Part of a building facade falls down on Chestnut St. in Rochester

Chestnut 3.jpg
Max Schulte
The Rochester Fire Department responded to the former Richford Hotel at 65-67 Chestnut St. Thursday after strong winds blew the façade off the building. The building has been empty for several years.

A portion of Chestnut Street in downtown Rochester had to be shut down Thursday afternoon after parts of the façade of an old building came down.

It was a windy day, which didn’t things. Parts of the façade were peeling off the side of a long-vacant building at 65-67 Chestnut St. near Elm Street.

Firefighters responded around 12:30 p.m. and found that panels on the north side of the building facing Elm had pulled away from the building, and pieces had fallen to the sidewalk. No one was injured and one vehicle got minor damage.

Police closed off streets around the building and the city’s code enforcement team met with the building owner on site. The owner is working with an engineer to determine what can be done to remove or stabilize the remaining panels. That process may take days to complete.

City Hall notes that private owners are responsible for the condition of the building, and if an owner does not make the needed repairs, the city will do that and charge the cost to the owner.

The city says this building was constructed in 1915. It’s been vacant since 2011. There are currently 9 code violations on the property, but the owners are up to date on tax payments.

Officials say the panels that pulled away from the building had not been a code violation until Thursday and may have been impacted by the strong winds.

Early Thursday evening, RPD said the street closures being made for safety reasons include:

Streets between East Broad and Chestnut Streets, to Lawn and Chestnut for north and south traffic.

Also no traffic will be allowed on Elm from Atlas or Chestnut.

There’s no word yet how long streets around that building will be blocked to traffic.

The building is owned by Midtown Reborn LLC. It was formerly called the Richford Hotel.

Lou Giardino, a Rochester native now living in Arizona and who is still involved in development in the city, has been trying to get investors together to purchase and redevelop the Chestnut St. building.

He originally wanted to turn the building into a hotel, but he said those plans were put on hold with the impact of the pandemic.

Giardino said any project like this will have challenges, and he will still pursue a plan to purchase it, and maybe turn it into some sort of a hybrid situation, with space for living, working and learning.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.
Max Schulte is responsible for creating video and photo elements for WXXI News and its digital spaces. He also assists with news and public affairs coverage, digital-first video content, and studio productions.