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Vacuum Oil site takeover approved by Rochester City Council

Vacuum Oil building
Max Schulte
The city of Rochester wants to acquire 5 Flint St., which includes a crumbling warehouse building.

The city of Rochester is one step closer to taking control of a derelict property that’s part of the former Vacuum Oil complex in the Plymouth-Exchange neighborhood.

During its meeting Tuesday, City Council approved legislation authorizing the city to acquire 5 Flint St. either by condemnation or through a negotiated purchase at a price not to exceed its appraised value of $60,000.

Council Vice President Mary Lupien and Councilmember Stanley Martin voted against the legislation authorizing the acquisition, which passed 7-2.

“I know that there are other interested parties in buying this site and developing it, so I’d like to explore that a little bit more before we authorize condemnation,” Lupien said as she briefly explained her vote.

The former Vacuum Oil properties are heavily contaminated from operations of the refinery, which shut down in 1935. The heart of the 40-acre complex was along Flint Street, and a series of explosions, spills, and other incidents within the complex saturated the soil with petroleum and other chemicals.

DHD Ventures bought the 5 Flint St. property in 2008, along with 15 Flint St. The firm, led by Tom Masaschi, planned to clean up and redevelop the parcels, but the project languished. Last March, a judge ordered DHD to sell the properties as part of a mortgage foreclosure case.

Masaschi could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday.

The city already owns around 18 acres surrounding 5 Flint St. that it wants to see redeveloped. But officials have said they need to incorporate 5 Flint St. into the city’s cleanup plans to reach that goal. They’ve also said they need control of the property to carry out the planned replacement of the adjacent Genesee River wall.

City officials plan to demolish the warehouse before performing cleanup work.

The city previously went through an in-depth planning process for the Vacuum Oil site and the neighborhood around it. That resulted in a vision for publicly accessible development of the waterfront and potential private development inland.

Includes reporting by Gino Fanelli.

Jeremy Moule is a deputy editor with WXXI News. He also covers Monroe County.
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