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Colgate Divinity School moving again, will teach 100 students in the Sibley Triangle Building

Sibley Triangle Building at East Avenue and East Main Street in downtown Rochester.
Brian Sharp
Sibley Triangle Building at East Avenue and East Main Street in downtown Rochester.

The Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School is moving again, this time to the Sibley Triangle Building on East Main Street.

Colgate President Angela Sims publicly announced the move in an email over the weekend. The move comes amid developer Angelo Ingrassia’s $9.2 million renovation of the building.

In May, Ingrassia was awarded $3 million in financial assistance from Empire State Development for the project, through its Restore New York program. Ingrassia plans to convert the building into student housing on the upper floors, with Colgate occupying the ground floor.

The move is the second in recent years for Colgate. The school moved to a warehouse space in Village Gate after the sale to Ingrassia of its hilltop campus on South Goodman Street near Highland Park. It’s in year three of a five-year lease. In her message, Sims said the decision to move was approved by the school’s board in March with the intent, in part, of increasing the visibility of the institution.

“With a vision to become a seminary of and for the community, our new campus will provide expanded access to civic, educational, government, and religious organizations,” the letter reads.

In 2019, as the school began its move, former Director of Development Lisa Bors said the move would allow the school to better immerse itself in the community.

“We’re excited to be a part of the community now and not on the hill and looking at the sky,” Bor said. “We’re looking at people now.”

Built in 1897, the Triangle Building is a 36,500-square-foot brick structure at the intersection of East Avenue and East Main Street that is reminiscent of Manhattan’s Flat Iron Building. Ingrassia plans to rent the space to Colgate at a “substantially below market” rate of $1 a square foot, according to plans he presented to the Monroe County Industrial Development Agency (COMIDA) on July 18.

As part of the planned renovations, the building will have 36 apartments, ranging from $785 studios to $1,100 two-bedroom units. They’ll be aimed at students at the Eastman School of Music. Speaking to the COMIDA board this month, Ingrassia said Eastman is experiencing a housing shortage.

“Right now, their residential portion, they’re under about 300 residential units,” Ingrassia said. “So, they’re starving for units.”

Colgate is a progressive theology school that has roughly 100 full- and part-time students. Sims said the new location offers a unique opportunity for the school, due to its proximity to other Rochester institutions, like the Eastman School and the Empire Justice Center.

“This new location will provide opportunities for strategic collaborations and growth, enabling the seminary to further live into its brand promise of peace, service, and justice,” Sims wrote.

Gino Fanelli is an investigative reporter who also covers City Hall. He joined the staff in 2019 by way of the Rochester Business Journal, and formerly served as a watchdog reporter for Gannett in Maryland and a stringer for the Associated Press.