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Vacant hotel and tavern near airport could see new life

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There are plans to redevelop the vacant Ramada and Wheels Up Tavern in Gates.

Plans are being solidified to tear down and redevelop the once-troubled — and now vacant — airport Ramada hotel and Wheels Up Tavern in Gates.

The eight-acre site off Brooks Avenue is sandwiched between Interstate 390 and the Erie Canal. The airport is on the other side of the highway.

“It's a gateway to Rochester, or to Gates, too, you know,” said Gates Supervisor Cosmo Giunta. "I mean, this is a perfect opportunity to revitalize and redevelop that whole area.”

Guinta said developers want to tear down and build new. That could include not just a hotel but sites for restaurants and a gas station.

"And maybe some housing, you know, being that it's waterfront property, there along the canal,” he said.

The previous owner lost the property to foreclosure. That was almost three years ago.

Now a development team that includes Taylor the Builders is eying the site and seeking $2 million in Restore New York grant funding to make it happen. Total project costs are estimated at more than $17 million, according to Monroe County.

"To demolish is going to be costly because of the asbestos and all that,” Giunta said, noting that it could cost $3.5 million “just to level the thing.”

He sees a lot of potential for what became quite the town headache, with multiple code violations, police calls and other problems.

“Oh, it was tremendous,” he said of the time when emergency responders were getting called out almost every day. “You know, for all kinds of things, so it was putting a burden on not only my police force, but the fire (department). I mean, the fire alarms kept going off.”

Taylor built the Courtyard by Marriot at East and Alexander in downtown Rochester. A company representative declined to discuss the Gates project, saying it is too early in the process.

Brian Sharp is WXXI's business and development reporter. He has been covering Rochester since 2005, working most of that time as an investigative reporter with the Democrat and Chronicle. His journalism career spans nearly three decades.