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The vote is final: The Wiss Hotel building will come down

By Howard B. Owens

Many of the supporters of restoring the Wiss Hotel building on Main Street in Le Roy walked out of Wednesday's village board meeting saying "their minds were made up."

Mike Tucci, Robert Taylor and Jim Bonacquisti all voted to demolish what may be Le Roy's oldest standing commercial building, even though over the past several months, two architects, three contractors and a code enforcement officer all toured the building and said it could be saved.

"They kept moving the goal posts," Trustee Jennifer Keys said after the meeting.

By her calculation, the $132,000 Tucci, Taylor and Bonacquisti voted to expend on destruction of the Wiss equals 8.5 years of the village's community swimming pool fund.

The fee paid to Empire Dismantlement will be pulled from the village reserve fund, according to Mayor Greg Rogers, who, along with Keys, voted no on Bonacquisti's motion to destroy the Wiss.

On Monday, the Le Roy, New York LLC submitted its fifth revised offer to purchase the building so it could be saved and restored.

The new offer answered many of the objects raised by Tucci, Taylor and Bonacquisti.

The offer was written by village resident and Buffalo attorney Chandy Kemp.

"We did everything that was suggested to us to make our offer more appealing," Kemp said. "We identified the parties (of the LLC). We told them where the money was going to come from. We eliminated some of the contingencies. We gave plans about what we intended to do with the property. And they still shot it down. I’m not sure what more we could have done."

At one point, Kemp and her husband, Chris, were thinking of buying the building themselves in order to sidestep any distrust the trustees might have of the LLC. But after touring the building themselves, they realized saving it would be just too much work to take on by themselves, so they joined the LLC.

"I don't think an offer Chris and I would have submitted independent of the LLC, I don't think now, it would be much different," Kemp said. "I'm not convinced we would have been successful. I'm thinking a lot of this, maybe the decision was made a year ago, and a lot of this was just running around until the bids for demolition came in and they knew how much it was going to cost and that just sealed it."

The latest offer also contained the promise of a $500,000 performance bond.

Tucci, Taylor and Bonacquisti all said they respected the hard work of the LLC, that they each gave the issue a lot of thought -- Bonacquisti said he lost sleep over it -- but in the end, tearing the Wiss down was "the right decision."

"In the last 20 years we’ve taken the Sterling Diner down, Vic Bloods has come down, the Millman block has come down, but all Main Street hasn’t come down," Bonacquisti said. "Not only did we survive those buildings coming down, but we’ve gotten better."

Tucci read a prepared statement:

I do have upmost respect for everyone associated with the Le Roy New York LLC. I do appreciate all of their hard work and dedication as to wanting to save this building and make something better of it. They have a passion for Main Street that I hope carries on after this vote. I realize not every one agrees with me with my decision to take it down but I do believe it’s in the best interest of the village. I can only hope people respect my decision and know it’s come with a lot of thought.

Taylor spoke about his 72 years of living in the village and the many hours of his life spent enjoyably at the Wiss, and that he's spoken to a lot of people about the issue.

"My personal opinion, the LLC just picked the wrong building," Taylor said.

Bonacquisti said, "the time for the Wiss has come," and that whatever replaces it will be better.

What replaces it is a complete unknown at this point, though, a point Louis Buono, a supporter of the LLC and owner of the McDonald's franchise in Le Roy, raised later in the meeting.

"There’s not been a plan in place; there’s not been an idea proposed; yet, you ask the LLC over and over againt to formalize a plan which could produce many opportunities here in this village, and yet we’ve heard nothing other than we will demolish the building," Buono said.

"In respect for the other people who spoke in support of saving it," Buono added, "I believe you owe it to the community to explain -- what do you plan to do with that property? -- and not just a commitment saying ‘we will do our best,’ but what is your plan?"

Rogers admitted there is no plan, but by the second meeting in April, the trustees will have a better idea of what will be done going forward.

Previously during the meeting, Rogers said the trustees now have a responsibility to protect the character of the village.

"It's the village board's responsibility to take care of that corner and put something there that makes sense and doesn't destroy the character of this village," Rogers said. "That's our responsibility. That's the five people who sit on this board, that's their responsibility. You have my word that I will work extremely hard not to be an embarrassment. It's a job I take very seriously."

What comes next is the biggest fear the preservationists have. 

"All I’m hearing the board talk about is memories of what it was," said David Damico, a graphic artist who moved to Le Roy in 2008 and is concerned about the village losing its identity. "None of them seem to have any foresight as to what it could be. I think maybe it takes a new person to see that. I want to see this community grow and if we’re tearing everything down, I don’t see how that’s going to happen."

Many fear another Walgreens-type of development, which Selby Davis says, "maimed" the northwest corner of Main and Lake streets.

"It's now something we can do nothing about," she said.

That's also the fear of Chandy Kemp.

"My first reaction is fear," Kemp said. "I'm still afraid of the slippery slope. I trust the mayor and believe and trust his word that he wants to preserve Main Street, but I'm not sure that can be said of the others in the village who may have dollar signs in their eyes. That's my biggest concern, that this is the first step toward major demolition of Main Street, and that's something I would hate to see."


Tearing down the Wiss Is crazy..Here's my crazy .Rip down everything from the Wiss down to the post office.Then continue right down Mill street to the Train tressle ,up from there to the old Dargan Hotel.
From this point we can build a major league sports facilty that runs between the Oatka Creek and route 5
Call them the Le Roy losers and say It all ended with a 3-2 decision.

Mar 14, 2013, 9:55am Permalink
Lorie Longhany

I want to know from Mr Taylor why in a free market he is picking and choosing what building is OK to buy and what building is "wrong". That sounds a lot like a very menacing and overreaching local government picking winners and losers to me.

Mar 14, 2013, 10:17am Permalink
Jerry Buckman

From Howard's reporting on the Wiss over the months, I believe the pros/cons were analyzed with enough rigor to make an informed decision. This issue was contentious enough to guarantee not everyone would be happy with the result. Others outside the LLC who were emotional about this could've joined the LLC and ponyed up some $$ to bolster their cause....but that didn't happen. So down it goes....correct decision made.

Mar 14, 2013, 10:26am Permalink
Don Vickers

I love history and think if at all possible it needs to be preserved. At least I will always have the memories of playing the Video Game Asteroids there at the Wiss when I got off work as a gas station attendant at the old W.W. Griffith Gas station(1980 and 1981). When ever I come home on vacation I purposely drive down Main Street to relive memories and those memories are getting fewer and farther between now. I fear that soon I won't recognize the town I was born and raised in.


Mar 14, 2013, 10:44am Permalink
Ted Wenzka

My advice to LeRoyans is to tear your Main Street down and put up a mall as Batavia did. Then you can have visitors ask "Is that a prison you have in the center of your city?"

Mar 14, 2013, 11:07am Permalink
Lorie Longhany

Don, my epiphany came when a former teacher came back for a visit after relocating to the south ten years ago after retiring. I ran into him and his wife at the McDonald's park bench. He kept saying to me (and I parpaphrase) "What is happening here? This Main Street has deteriorated so much." His comments gave me pause.

We don't see it every day, but people that have left and then come back see the decay and neglect.

We need to start somewhere and the LeRoy LLC was willing to start with The Wiss. What could be more American than that? A building in decay with a group of people willing to invest and turn it around. While I was not an investor (starving artist) I was involved with the group. The interest to invest was growing, with many individuals coming on board with so many different backgrounds and so much to offer. This was a real grassroots effort to take this project on and hopefully see it bare fruit.

For this board to not even give this group the chance I think is the real tragedy. The LLC might have failed as with all risks, but now we will never know because they were denied.

Mar 14, 2013, 11:15am Permalink
Jennifer Keys

Actually the figures I ran were; $132,000 demolition price + $20,000 for the air quality study that will have to be conducted at the same time and is separate from the demo price + $4,000 for the asbestos survey = $156,000 which is 8.5 years of our current expenses on the pool, which was almost as big a fight as this was because no one wanted to spend any money on it.

An "eye sore" is a personal opinion, legitimate, but an opinion. The facts are that 2 architects, an engineer, 3 contractors, and the code enforcement officer from Batavia said it is sound and remediable, and three of them went through the building in the last 3 weeks. So, when given the choice between accepting $10,000 and returning it to the tax roles (a concrete plan) and spending $156,000 (let's hope there's no hidden costs as there are often are in such projects) the majority voted to spend. An eye sore can be fixed. A building torn down is gone forever.

Mar 14, 2013, 11:59am Permalink
bud prevost

Let's look at this logically. If that property were truly redeemable, the county would have never given it to the village to deal with. If that building was truly valuable, why did no one attempt to purchase it? It was for sale for a good number of years. I am glad something is being done with it. Now, let's get the state in on this, and widen the intersection.
BTW, I think that opening up the eastward view of Main St is going to be a good thing. As it sits now, there is no view of the school campus or the creek from that point.

Mar 14, 2013, 12:09pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Jerry, while I've clearly had my own personal opinion on this matter, I've tried to make sure that all points of view received an equal opportunity to be expressed through articles and comments, and I take it that you recognize that, so thank you. I would like to think that all relevant facts and opinions have been reflected in the coverage and if the coverage leads you to the opinion that the building should come down, then I've done my job insomuch as the "tear-down" arguments were fairly reflected.

As for others putting forward money, I take the remarks from Chandy, as quoted in this article, that the board was presented with an offer that revealed the people pledging funds to the LLC sufficient to deal with the building. There was also the matter of the $500,000 performance bound to protect the village.

Bud, the whole point of the LLC was members of the community pooling their resources in a way that mitigated individual risk and to address the fact that no individual investor was likely to step forward on such a risk. Yes, the project was a risk, but the fact that no individual investor stepped forward is hardly a logical reason to reject the LLC offer or does it bolster any notion that the building couldn't be saved. There were plenty of people expert in the field who said it could be saved. Whether the building is an eyesore is a matter of opinion. Whether it could be saved, while not guaranteed, was at least backed by enough expert, informed opinion, that the argument that it couldn't be saved is rather moot.

It's highly unlikely that the state is going to take on a widening project anytime soon. It's not on their radar from what Tim Hens has said. So what you're going to have is a vacant corner for a good long time, most likely, full of weeds, unless the village is going to expend tax dollars to put in grass and maintain it. Next, most likely, comes a developer who will find the lot (with the DOT's right of way no longer grandfathered in) too small for development and only be interested in developing it if surrounding lots are bought and those structures torn down. That's most logical sequence of events we can expect precipitated by this decision. Unless there's some leadership to ensure new development is in keeping and character of the village, then future development of that corner will likely be destructive to the village character. Mayor Rogers can promise to fight against out-of-character development, but the fact that Walgreens exists as it does (and that some argue Walgreens was a positive move) makes one rather pessimistic that he will be successful in that fight.

"I am glad something is being done with it." The LLC was going to do something with it, too.

Mar 14, 2013, 12:42pm Permalink
Jim DeLooze

I have a few suggestions for the Wiss supporters. If you are really willing to invest $1 million in such a high-risk project, why not take $200,000 and buy one of the neighboring properties. This would block any big-box developers and you could make improvements to the property to show what could really be done on main street. Another suggestion would be to buy the property from the village once the Wiss is down and build a smaller two story version of the building similar to the one in the pictures you have been posting.

Mar 14, 2013, 2:03pm Permalink
Jennifer Keys

Well, Jim, as you've stated before your building is for sale for $125,000. Maybe you'll get that sale after all.

Please excuse my sarcasm, but since when do we as a community tell others how to or not to spend their money? The only thing that should be at issue here or throughout this entire process is if it is appropriate for the village to spend tax payer dollars to demolish a building that has a legitimate purchase offer made on it or sell it and allow the market/capitalism/community to take care of it themselves.

It does appear to be clear, though, that it does not matter how many experts one has compared to people who admit to not being experts, the decisions are still made based on emotion, not fact. Ironic since that is something I have often been accused of throughout my professional life as a social worker and within this debate.

With any luck this will not deter future dreamers from coming forward as dreamers are what makes the world go around.

Mar 14, 2013, 2:12pm Permalink
Jennifer Keys

Bud, I feel compelled to clear this up as you are not the only one to state this in recent days (hours), the county never took posession of this building.…

The village took it over in approximately November 2011 when it was apparent that everything was stalemated. Since that time experts have been in it to state it is remediable and investors came forward.

I don't know, but it would be interesting to know, if the county sent any experts into the building when they voted unanimously that it was not worth it.

A question I have asked in the past is exactly when is a good time for people with money to step forward to take on a project such as this? I'm still waiting for an answer from anyone at all.

Mar 14, 2013, 2:19pm Permalink
Jim DeLooze

I was just trying to be helpful here Jennifer. I don't think you clearly understand that no matter how many experts say that building could be saved you still need a structural engineer to do an inspection under the New York State building and fire code. The building must pass that inspection before you can get a building permit. The LLC was not willing to pay for that inspection until they took possession of the building.

Mar 14, 2013, 2:37pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Why would any investor pay for an expensive analysis when A) they don't own the building; and B) there's no guarantee that if the building got a clean bill of health those currently in control of the title would be willing to sell it? It makes no sense.

Mar 14, 2013, 3:44pm Permalink
Brett DeKruger

Oh My God Jim, don't do it man !!!! Don't go throwing out FACTS like that !! I've tried and no one would listen. Both parties are at fault for not getting this done at some point. Had a structural inspection beeen done, the debate would be over. Instead we'll never know if the Wiss was salvageable or not until the demolition is done. The cart was put before the horse.

Mar 14, 2013, 3:49pm Permalink
Jennifer Keys

Jim, there was never an attempt to even negotiate that part. If it was part of the issue in voting against selling then it could have been addressed.

Thank you for your help. I don't want to speak for the LLC as I am not a member, but my observation is that it would be more helpful if you were in support of preserving Main Street than against.

Mar 14, 2013, 3:52pm Permalink
Jim DeLooze

Jennifer, I am employed by the LeRoy historical society. Just because I want to see a building that is both a health hazard and a fire hazard be demolished does not mean I am against preserving Main street.

Howard, what does not make sense is buying a property especially a distressed property without having an inspection done before the purchase. If something is wrong then you can walk away and cut your losses.

Mar 14, 2013, 4:25pm Permalink
Jennifer Keys

Good point.

In my opinion, what doesn't make sense is not giving it an opportunity to succeed instead of assuming that it will fail. Just a different way of looking at things. There is a lengthy history of standing in the way and assuming failure. If I did that as a social worker I would no longer have a job. I also would be bitter rather than cynical and probably live on a mountaintop by myself with my dogs.

Dreamers are what makes the world go round.

Mar 14, 2013, 5:24pm Permalink
Jennifer Keys

Fact, there was a legitimate offer on the table to purchase from invested people who were willing to negotiate.

Fact, it was deemed stable by people who are experts and who were also invested in making the project work.

Fact, this could have been resolved as early as last November.

Fact, instead of negotiating or accepting the LLC's offer a vote to expend tax payer dollars to demolish was successful.

Fact, that demolition vote was for demolition without asbestos abatement.

Fact, as long as there are no more hidden costs at the current rate we pay as village tax payers the money that will be spent to demolish is the equivalent of what we will spend on the pool for 8.5 years.

Fact, there is no plan for what comes next.

Fact, in the past the comprehensive plan has been ignored.

Mar 14, 2013, 5:38pm Permalink
Joseph Langen

Howard, Thanks for your great coverage throughout this whole process. Having worked as an AmeriCorps volunteer for the past three years, I learned firsthand what it is like to work in a restored 1830's building. It is with great sadness that I learn about the village board decision to demolish the Wiss and destroy the possibility of what it might have become. I still fail to understand how the board can forego a reasonable offer for the Wiss and instead choose to waste taxpayer money to create a vacant lot destined to shrink in size as a result of a DOT lien with no reasonable plan of their own despite having three years to come up with one. The only rationale offered was that this was the right thing to do. I think we are at least owed an explanation of why this is the right thing to do and what the board plans. The board plans to START thinking about a plan. I think it is a little late for this. I am grateful that we have two thoughtful and reasonable village board members who were willing to give private enterprise a chance to turn around the deterioration of Main Street. Too bad an election is not anywhere near. In my opinion, the best interests of the village are not being served by this board.

Mar 14, 2013, 5:47pm Permalink
Dan Robinson

IF the LLC had taken ownership of the Wiss, and IF it failed the engineering study, what would the LLC have done with it? Was the village worried about it getting abandoned

Mar 14, 2013, 6:00pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Jim, I think Jennifer responded well.

Let's say the LLC had been given a chance to buy the building. And let's say they applied for the appropriate permits, which would necessitate a structural analysis. Let's say that analysis came back and said, "can't be saved."

The LLC would have been out some money. Isn't that their right as Americans -- to take a risk and suffer a lose? At what point is that any of the government's business, or your business (if you're not an investor yourself). (I also think that if that had been the outcome, the LLC would have picked itself up, dusted itself off and picked another project with the same energy and vigor, but this result, I fear, human nature being what it is, may be a discouragement that will kill forever the idea of a Rick Hauser-like LLC in Le Roy.)

You say the building was a health and safety hazard. That's your opinion. It's not an opinion shared by the experts who actually did a visual assessment of the building.

If the LLC offer had been accepted and it was determined the building needed to come down anyway, there would be no different outcome than what we're having now, except that at least some people who wanted to try and do something positive for the community would have been giving the chance.

it will baffle me forever as to why they weren't given that chance. The fact that some people think it's an eyesore is no reason not to give them a chance, because "eyesore" is just a matter of opinion; the fact that people without the expertise to make the judgement think it's a hazard or can't be saved is no reason not to give them a chance because the actual experts disagree and it's a question that can only be reached as a definitive answer by giving them a chance; the fact that some people are of the opinion that their business plan won't work is no reason not to give them a chance because the American way is one that allows entrepreneurial minded people to take risks and the village suffers no lose if the LLC had failed as a business.

I've said it before, I've yet to hear one reasonable, logically sound argument as that answers the question: why not give the LLC a chance?

Mar 14, 2013, 6:03pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Dan, the one thing that never really came out, nobody ever addressed, and perhaps Jennifer knows, is what would have happened if the building had to come down after the LLC obtained ownership. To me, if you're the LLC, you assume that risk, but it also could have been a point negotiated.

If village was going to expend the money anyway, no skin off the nose of the village if the LLC deeds it back for demolition.

On the other hand, and perhaps Jennifer knows, would the $500K performance bond had covered this scenario?

Mar 14, 2013, 6:07pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

BTW: At least we all care enough as a community to debate this issue, even after it's decided. Thanks to all who have participated in the debate on The Batavian, even if we haven't always agreed and even got a little pointed at times.

It's been heartening that so many voices have weighed in on this issue and the trash issue.

Mar 14, 2013, 6:08pm Permalink
Dan Robinson

Ah I see. If I read that correctly, it's sounds like the village would have been back on the hook to pay for the demolition if it had been deemed unsaveable. Would the LLC have been responsible during that time if something happened, like someone getting hurt there? Or would that have been on the villages shoulders as well?

Mar 14, 2013, 6:38pm Permalink
Scott Blossom

Lets be honest about this Howard, your creation of The Batavian has provided a forum for debate that this region never had before.

Let alone the closest outlet of true jounalism that I have ever seen. All sides are reported on and allowed to state their sides equaly. Factual reporting is all I ever wanted out of a news outlet. The Batavian is the only place I have found it.

Opinions belong right there they are here, in comments section, not the news article.

Thank you Howard for your service to the region.

Everyone take this as it is intended, I have no reson to kiss a dark and unsanitary place. 3 cheers for The Batavian!

Mar 14, 2013, 6:46pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Thanks, Scott. Not everybody likes what we do or how we do it, but a lot of people do and it's good to know.

Dan, I'm not lawyer, but I play one in the comments section (but if I remember correctly, the lawyers involved (such as Fussell and Kemp) discussed this and we covered it (I could look it up, but wont <g>) ... once the LLC obtained title, safety was the LLC's legal liability, not the village's.

One of Jim B.'s arguments was that he would feel horrible if the village sold the Wiss and somebody got hurt later, but that's a personal response, not a legal liability.

As a matter of dollars and sense, if the LLC owned the building, they were wholly responsible for it.

What I was trying to explain about responsibility for destruction: If the LLC owned it and it needed to come down, I would think that would be the LLC's responsibility. However, I would expect the village to negotiate on that point, because if the LLC ran out of money or just stopped paying/performing, it's conceivable the village wouldn't re-obtain title until enough years of unpaid taxes amassed. Nobody would want that, so ... and maybe, that's where the performance bond comes in (but I didn't get a chance (since it only came up last night as is more of a footnote at this point) to get an explanation. But I would think the performance bond would mean an insurance company (issuer of the bond) would be on the hook for demolition in a non-performance situation.

That is a topic that in all the talk about the Wiss was never really hashed out in a public way, as far as I know or can remember.

Mar 14, 2013, 7:12pm Permalink
Jennifer Keys

There were provisions in each offer to address this. They were put in with consultation from the village's attorney. So, those who voted to demolish could have still been worried about this, but it was addressed with no further mention and again, the LLC was willing to negotiate to address concerns brought forward.

Mar 14, 2013, 7:48pm Permalink

I want a nice brick to remember the building!..There should be a way to sell some bricks and then donate $ to a charity?

Mar 14, 2013, 8:47pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

It's a half-brick facade.

Remember, the building was once covered in tin -- the tin facade was never removed from the east side of the building ... maybe snip of that would be cool to have ...

However, since demolition will be "hot" there will probably be no opportunity for any souvenir collecting.

Mar 14, 2013, 9:54pm Permalink
Phil Ricci

Sad. It seems like government forcing their will again, without letting the community decide. Sounds like a good representative government to me.

I think it's hysterical that when a private group wants to try and save something, not a government agency, they were rebuked. I've read this all right along, and I have not heard one good argument to not allow the group to try.

It sounds like the will of the few is more important than the many.

Again, sad. And the best about all of this is, there is no plan to make the space functional.

What a joke.

Mar 14, 2013, 11:10pm Permalink
Beth Kinsley

Did you miss the quote about making it into a park with picnic tables Phil? I can think of nowhere I would rather go for a nice picnic than the corner of routes 5 and 19 with the lovely view of Walgreens.

Mar 15, 2013, 12:15am Permalink
Jim DeLooze

Jennifer, I hope you still feel the same way about the community not telling others how to spend their money when a developer offers me three times the amount for my building than it's worth.

Mar 15, 2013, 7:51am Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Jim, sell your property to whomever you like, so long as what they want to build conforms to design standards for the village.

And hopefully those design standards conform to the village character.

It's not just about old buildings. It's about mixed-use, high-density development, something the village forgot about in approving Walgreens.

I'm not really up on what master plan is place in this regard, but if Le Roy keeps knocking down it's old buildings in favor of developments like Walgreens, it's not going to have a very happy economic future and it's going to destroy its most valuable asset.

I'd be much more comfortable with the Wiss coming down if I knew that what comes next isn't another Walgreens like development.

Mar 15, 2013, 8:12am Permalink
Jim DeLooze

Howard, Walgreens does conform to the village standards; if it didn't, it couldn't have been built. Walgreens is a valuable asset to the village; it supplies jobs , tax revenue, and needed services for people like me who walk instead of drive everywhere. It replaced buildings that were no longer viable and that no one wanted. This is the current problem with other buildings, not only in LeRoy but other villages. People want to talk about these buildings, but they don't want to buy them or take care of them before they become unsafe. The Wiss had been in obvious decline for many years.

Mar 15, 2013, 8:33am Permalink
Jennifer Keys

No, I won't "feel" the same way, but it really won't matter will it because free enterprise dictates you get to sell.

Unfortunately, that really is the bottom line isn't it?! The corner will be open so now a developer can come in and destroy Main Street because our community has a history of not following the comprehensive plan.

New development belongs on the outskirts, not on Main Street. If you read my blog you would know that I have thought that way since I was a toddler, that's not likely to change. Main Street can IN FACT be fitted to meet needs in it's current state. In recent weeks I have been to Geneseo, Mt. Morris and Angelica. In recent months I have been to Brockport and Perry. It's mind blowing that successful examples of this type of revitalization in our area abound yet "we" "can't" do it here.

Mar 15, 2013, 9:23am Permalink
Jennifer Keys

And really isn't that what the vocal majority have said all along? They want the Wiss saved, but barring that they want to know the plan and they want it to be in keeping with the quaintness of our Main Street.

Once buildings are torn down they are gone forever!

I'd like to point out that, while we clearly don't need one because we have a lovely local coffee shop, Starbucks is a gigantic corporation that does NOT demolish, instead they take over what is already there and fit it to their needs. When has anyone every been in a newly built Starbucks which wasn't a kiosk inside a larger store (BTW: they are only loosely affiliated with the corporation)?

Others could do that if they so chose to.

Mar 15, 2013, 9:27am Permalink
Jennifer Keys

Jim, The Village Comprehensive Plan states that new builds should comply with the surrounding area. That building is built back from the corner with parking in front. That is not in compliance with what the community wants.

Mar 15, 2013, 9:28am Permalink
mike vinci

Nice job Howard on covering this event. Having grown up in Le Roy, I remember what a pretty little community it used to be. The worst thing that happened there was that ugly McDonalds stuck right in the middle of everything. An eyesore and nutritional nightmare for the community. One would think preservation of the face of the village would be the primary goal of every member of the community. If people were willing to invest in the Wiss, with no loss to the village, why on earth not let them try? Looking in from the outside, it appears that a few people did not ever want them to succeed. Maybe jealousy played a roll in everything? The human factor may have been at play here? Two things for sure in the outcome of all this. Politics over peoples' will, once again and an ugly vacant lot stuck in a prime location for years to come, no doubt because of lack of a plan for the spot. I agree with Jennifer that there are some beautiful little villages that have preserved their main streets. The wife and I have been to most of them and it gives you such a warm feeling of being transported back in time.Unfortunately, that will never be the case for Le Roy. I agree, the proposal to restore the Wiss was a lost cause from day one. Closed minded people with their own ideas on how things should and would go down. It is impossible to find logic where there is none! It will be interesting to see who benefits in the end from tearing down the Wiss. My guess is, it won't be Le Roy, as a village. RIP ol' main street.

Mar 15, 2013, 11:01am Permalink
Dan Robinson

The point was made above that "what a great place to put a park and have a picnic, with all the passing cars". The same applies as far as living there in my opinion. Who in their right mind would want to live on that corner, much less someone who could afford a "high end" apartment. Also if the village would have been back on the hook to demolish it IF it failed the engineering study, what advantage is there for the town to wait? Usually a buyer has those inspections done before purchasing a property, not after. In theory the demolition would cost more in the future. I would be interested to know the rental rates and occupancy of the rental properties in the area around that intersection, as there are a lot of them.

Mar 15, 2013, 11:02am Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Jim, let's stipulate that what was on the northwest corner before Walgreens had to come down. The demolition was just months before I came to town, so I have no opinion one way or another on whether demolition was necessary. It's really a moot point.

The discussion isn't about what was there before vs. Walgreens. It's Walgreens vs. what should be there now.

See Jennifer's #44 comment on the comprehensive plan, which pretty well demonstrates Walgreens is out of compliance.

But, again, that's really a moot point for the primary discussion.

Walgreens, regardless of what was there before, or whether if violates the comprehensive plan, is an economic disaster for the village. That's just a fact.

Regardless of how much economic benefit you believe it brings, that benefit is 1/10th or less of what it would be if a proper mix-used, high density structure had been built in that location -- fronting Main Street with parking in back, so as to suit the character of the village.

As others have said -- there's no reason to accept that Le Roy need be in permanent decline, or that everything needs to be ripped out in favor of Henrietta-type development. You've state at village board meetings that is pretty much what you want and you've given the strong impression that you would sell out to that type of developer in a heart beat (which is why I suspect you're so passionate about tearing down the Wiss). But that isn't, I believe, what the majority of people in Le Roy or Genesee County want. And as Perry, Medina, Mt. Morris, Corning and other cities and villages in WNY prove, it need not be Le Roy's fate.

Mar 15, 2013, 11:14am Permalink
Jennifer Keys

a.) just because you wouldn't want to live there does not mean that others won't.
b.) even if it was the public's business what is done with a privately owned building it needs to be stated that the latest discussions from LLC members at Village Board meetings have been around office/business space instead on the upper floors.
c.) the advantages to the Village of letting them try are 1.) it creates an open and friendly community where people will want to come and invest instead of a community afraid to voice their opinions and creativity because they will be shot down, 2.) WHEN it did succeed then the Village did not have to spend precious tax payer dollars to demolish a building and could instead spend it on much needed infrastructre and sewage treatment upgrades.

Mar 15, 2013, 12:57pm Permalink
Jennifer Keys

Please, NO. If I wanted to live in Henrietta I would. I traded easy access to the greatest grocery store on earth (that is all local money, BTW) to live in a gorgeous community with amazing architecture.

Mar 15, 2013, 1:01pm Permalink
Jim DeLooze

Dan, you won't get a straight answer to any of your questions here. See comment #17. Most people making comments here don't understand the New York State Building and Fire Code and how that would have made the LLC's plans impossible to carry out.

Mar 15, 2013, 1:15pm Permalink
Jim DeLooze

Dan, you won't get a straight answer to any of your questions here. See comment #17. Most people making comments here don't understand the New York State Building and Fire Code and how that would have made the LLC's plans impossible to carry out.

Mar 15, 2013, 1:15pm Permalink
Jennifer Keys


Straight answer: buildings like this and in worse shape are successfully rehabbed every day all over NYS and the country.

But, of course if this building is purchased by the LLC and rehabbed then no developer is going to come and pay you the big bucks you mentioned above.

Mar 15, 2013, 3:46pm Permalink
Jim DeLooze

If the Wiss was in worse shape it wouldn't be standing. Jennifer would you please identify one building in New York State that had red placards on it that has been successfully rehabbed and under what circumstances that happened.

Mar 15, 2013, 4:37pm Permalink
Jim DeLooze

That must be it Frank. That's why I served three years as a village trustee, four years as a mayor, past president of rotary, past president of the LeRoy business council and invested over $300,000 in Main St. , because I don't care about the community. I have had three offers from developers since I have owned that property. The high offer was $425,000. If I was thinking about my wallet I would pull that property from the market right now and wait for the developers to come as soon as the Wiss is down, but instead I'm offering it to anyone in the community that wants to buy it for about one fourth the price that I was offered.

Mar 15, 2013, 5:45pm Permalink
Jennifer Keys

"This is the current problem with other buildings, not only in LeRoy but other villages. People want to talk about these buildings, but they don't want to buy them or take care of them before they become unsafe."

Oh my gosh, I can't believe I missed this the first time around. Jim, the current situation in other communities actually is that people ARE renovating and keeping up their buildings. Goodness have you missed the referrences to very close communities you can visit to see the work? Heck, you can even visit both Cuba's and Perry's Main Street renovations on Face Book.

Oh, and, by the way a group of someones has been trying to by the Wiss to do exactly what you say here since last November.

Mar 15, 2013, 7:06pm Permalink
Jennifer Keys

That implies that the walls and foundation are already caving in. We live in NYS you can drive pretty much anywhere in the North Country, or even the depths of any rural county, to see buildings in far worse shape that haven't completely caved in yet. Perhaps you should follow one of my many boards devoted to derelict architecture on Pinterest.

Aside from that, a lifelong rehab junkie like myself watches reno shows that show this, follows reno successes in news papers and online, and watches them in real life. In Ontario county on country road and the road where the BOCES in Stanley is on there is a completely wood structure (no tin or brick facades to protect it) that had caved in roofs and collapsed porces. I began dreaming about this house as a child. It had been empty for 20-years already by then. About 10-years ago someone completely renovated it and made it inhabitable. There was a house near it on Country rd 4, same thing. I work in Rochester. I see houses and brick structures that have been empty for decades, without roofs, boarded windows on the first floors and open windows on the higher floors, that get rehabed and turned into gorgeous buildings.

Or, we could just continue down the path that was established ages ago. If you were listening to the people around you, you would hear that they don't want to do so. The save our history people turned out in record numbers, more than even pool supporters, at the Village Board meetings. They are not actually invisible, no matter how hard people try not to see them.

Mar 15, 2013, 7:44pm Permalink
Kyle Couchman

To: Jim Delooze one building in NYS that was Red Placarded and rehabbed? The Masonic Temple in Ithaca NY, the Ithaca State Theater as well. . There are also several houses on Fraternity row on the Cornell Campus that were condemned and slated for demo I happened to be involved with and lived in one of them AND still have pictures, all were scheduled for demo then bought and rehabbed as well.... I found the articles on the Cornell Houses and The State Theater in case you feel like disputing it.

Is that enough examples for you Jim?…

Mar 15, 2013, 8:03pm Permalink
Kyle Couchman

I can say that 140 College Ave, and Ithaca State Theater and the Ithaca Masonic Temple were all condemned and red placarded..... whats the point your making? The same officials had also green lighted Love Canal as being ok for residential zoning and we know how that turned out dont we?

Mar 15, 2013, 8:39pm Permalink
Selby Davis

I would also like to thank Howard. I know I have not been vocal until the last meeting, but I was one of the original investors who paid Rick to work with us. Jennifer has been invaluable to this community throughout the process, keeping us up to date with information. One of my biggest complaints is that the 3 board members who voted for the demolition don't seem to be true representatives of the community, since the majority of people I have spoken to and have listened to and have read comments from are all shaking their heads like Bobble head dolls in disbelief. Once again. Just like when all of a sudden, Walgreens was going to appear on our other street corner. How did it happen?! Another power play by local govt good old boys. This is not a gender-biased remark. It is a statement of fact. Thank GOD the Mayor and Jennifer had the gumption to stick this out. What was Jim Bonaquisti referring to when he said he'd be happy to see the Church when he is out walking the pavement as he seems to do constantly? I have no problem seeing the steeple of the Presbyterian Church from any direction. Since he is Catholic, does he mean he will look forward to seeing Our Lady of Mercy Parish if the Wiss is torn down? Or does he know something about the structure that is planned to be built there that no one else knows or is telling. All very stinky like 3 day-old fish.

Mar 15, 2013, 10:13pm Permalink
Douglas Hill

I wish that so many voices had made comments, as has been done here, publicly when The future of The Wiss was hanging in the balance. Not enough members of our community attended Village Board meetings on the subject, or on any subject that I've seen, except on whether or not to accept Monroe County Water. Le Royans by and large do not speak up, and that's our duty as citizens. Le Roy has had opportunities to improve our creek bank, our signature view along Wolcott Street in Le Roy, yet a very few people came out in support of accepting a matching grant to do it. The response from the Village leaders at the time was that we couldn't possibly come up with the money for the match. Yet, now the Village coffers have apparently $250,000 in them, and the Village Board majority is only too willing to spend a large portion on it to tear down one building. And this is on to deconstruct our village, and not to build it up. We almost lost the Le Roy public pool (we did lose it for three summers denying kids in particular the opportunity to swim and to enjoy swimming) and it is clear that the powers that be did not actually go to the pool and assess what it needed or didn't need, or they wouldn't have closed it. Fortunately, in this case, we have some Le Royans who would not let our pool remain closed without bringing the facts to light. In 2008, Le Roy Village government decided to cower and duck and erase many of the potential gains to our village such as old fashioned street lights, every other light on Main Street, even when they had already been delivered. And why? Because apparently our Village leaders didn't know that the plan was to put the old-style lights every other light. I was at a Village Board meeting where this was not understood and the concern was that it would be too dark on Main Street with the old lights. Batavia has the old lighting and is it too dark there? And the other reason for returning the old-style lighting was the Village government didn't want to pay for the wiring! I was at the meeting. Yet we have all of this money in our coffers now. There were plans to use in-kind services to fund much of the match to accept the NYS Parks Grant to revitalize our creek bank. It all comes down to a lack of initative from Village leaders to research the condition of the pulic pool (built to last another 40 years before any improvement there), a lack of initative to listen to the former Village government who got the Park's Grant for the creek bank to know how that could work, and a lack of initative to listen to the former Village government to know how the old-style lighting would work on Main Street. There is very little continuity between one adminstration of Village government and the next. And there was a lack of initative to see the current Village government all working together to see if the Le Roy, NY LLC plan could at least better The Wiss if not reach all of its goals for its redevelopment. The problem in Le Roy on a governmental level, is that Republicans and Democrats cannot put aside their loyalty to party and work together with any vision for what we have in Le Roy and how we can maintain it and improve it. Some are more interested in carrying on a partisan fight, and seeking retribution for perceived slights, than for working for what's in the best interest of Le Roy. The Wiss debacle is just another example of this.

Mar 15, 2013, 11:58pm Permalink
Lorie Longhany

I actually don't believe that the Wiss vote was partisan, Doug, but you are right about partisan bickering in LeRoy. It can be very destructive.

I actually am just plain dumbfounded by the three no votes and everyone who I talk to feels the same way. If there was money for a poll, I would love to see what the will of the community really is and I would wager money that it would overwhelmingly tip to the side to sell to the LLC. Maybe Howard can put up a poll here.

I go back to what Chris Hayward said a few weeks ago. We used to be a community that did positive things and we pulled together for the perceived good of the community. Now we have morphed into a community that says "no" to everything. We said no to our community pool, we said no to the creekbank grant project, we said no to the lighting, we said no to Pete McQuillen's housing development for seniors. Now we said no to the Wiss. That's a lot of negative energy and way too many battle lines are being drawn.

While it's too late for the Wiss, I hope that LeRoyans will now speak up forcefully (as they did for the pool) and let this board know the destruction of our Main Street is unacceptable.

Mar 16, 2013, 1:40am Permalink
Jennifer Keys

Thank you to each of the people who were able to provide exact addresses and buildings for Jim.

Here's where I should remind you that three of the experts went through the building hours before the red signs went up, but then you'll say it wasn't good enough because of the other study that needed to be done. Then I'll say that the LLC started this battle in August with an initial purchase offer in November and you'll say "so". Then I'll remind you that more people for the sale came out than those against and you'll pretend that didn't happen.

This discussion is going in circles.

Where there is a will there is a way.

Your argument here has provided a great deal of information to support the conspiracy theorists. Thank you.

"Complacency never achieved your goals"

Mar 16, 2013, 7:24am Permalink
Kyle Couchman

Someone needs to consult the village or town charter. If enough signatures can be gathered maybe a community vote can be forced. This is the level that we the people have the most influence and if we let our local Govt just roll over the wishes of community then we have no right to complain about what or how they do things. Seems simple to me.

Mar 16, 2013, 9:32am Permalink
Jim DeLooze

Jennifer and Kyle, I read through your examples but nowhere did I see anything about red placards. I think you are confusing the red placards with building condemnation; they are not the same. The placards don't mean the building is condemned, but it does place certain restrictions on the structure which I will explain in a second.

I believe the intentions of the LeRoy New York LLC are to pool local resources, both financial and labor, for a share in the company. It's a good idea but, as Trustee Taylor stated, it's the wrong project. He couldn't be more right for the following reasons.

Under the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code, in order to rehab a building with a red placard, you must:
1. Start the project within six months of the date of possession of the building.
2. Complete the project and obtain a certificate of occupancy within one year of the date of possession of the building. (If these timelines are not met, the building is demolished).
3. Hire a New York State licensed professional (registered architect or professional engineer) to do an evaluation and develop a remediation plan.
4. Hire licensed contractors. All people doing work in the building must be submitted in writing to the code enforcement office. No one else will be allowed in the building (no volunteers, no in-kind service). This would elevate the cost of the project to the $2.5 to $3 million range which I explained at a village board meeting.

Performance bond; (This has nothing to do with the above law)
Performance bonds are issued to qualified contractors only, not to well-intentioned groups. There are many requirements for a performance bond, but the most important is the contractor demonstrate that he can finish a project by showing a minimum of three examples of completed projects of equal or greater magnitude of the project the bond is being applied for. Bonds are issued for the total cost of the project not for arbitrary amounts.

Finally, I would like to wish the Le Roy New York LLC and all the Wiss supporters good luck in your future endeavors. I sincerely hope you will keep your organization together and find a project on Main Street and prove to the community that your idea can work.

This is my final post on this subject!

Mar 16, 2013, 10:30am Permalink
Douglas Hill

I regret spelling 'initiative' wrong in my post. Once you start a post, there's no spell-check available to proofread. This is a very partisan village, and one that by and large does not as citizens come forward in any great numbers to say what it wants.

Mar 16, 2013, 11:07am Permalink
Jennifer Keys

"Under the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code, in order to rehab a building with a red placard, you must:
1. Start the project within six months of the date of possession of the building.
2. Complete the project and obtain a certificate of occupancy within one year of the date of possession of the building. (If these timelines are not met, the building is demolished).
3. Hire a New York State licensed professional (registered architect or professional engineer) to do an evaluation and develop a remediation plan.
4. Hire licensed contractors. All people doing work in the building must be submitted in writing to the code enforcement office. No one else will be allowed in the building (no volunteers, no in-kind service). This would elevate the cost of the project to the $2.5 to $3 million range which I explained at a village board meeting"

Just so everyone knows this is in fact accurate information. The cool part of this is that the LLC was aware of this and on board with it. Number 3 is the best one because they already hired Rick Hauser who is a licensed professional architect who already evaluated it and developed a plan. Number 4 is awesome too because 2 such licensed individuals were already on board AND there assessment was still less than yours in cost!

You were there on Wednesday night so you know the motion to accept their proposal was made contingent upon a $500,000 performance bond.

Thank you for making the argument as to why it should have happened!

They tried to prove to the community that it would work and the community has overwhelmingly supported it!

It seems to me, though, that none of this truly matters because the bottom line is that this was a decision to expend tax dollars versus earn revenue. The way I see it everyone who supported the idea to spend money believes that the government and the community has a say in what an individual or group wants to do with their property.

Mar 16, 2013, 12:35pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

On Jim's point number three -- and, "If these timelines are not met, the building is demolished."

Not true.

As Dan Lang told me, if progress is being made, but more time is needed, extensions are possible and likely.

But as Jennifer said, Jim's post is an argument for the LLC being given a chance with the project, not an argument against.

Mar 16, 2013, 12:55pm Permalink
Kyle Couchman

I agree with that, the 140 College ave bldg that I was involved with was red placarded, yet we file for extentions and complete excavated the entire property to reinforce the foundation and discovered that it sits on the bedrock and space for the foundation was excavated from the hillside it was in. So claiming that it is impossible is as erroneous as can be. Rehabbing is a very commonplace thing. There are buildings that end up demolished but as I'm sure that Jennifer can attest to. There are businesses that salvage and make available archeticural parts of these buildingd, everything from toilets to stained glass and odd shaped windows. Wrought Iron and 10' tall doors as well. Rochester and Ithaca both have large stores for this. So it's not such an impossible task. Anyone who read about 140 college ave and wants to see before and during pics of the renovation, just contact me @ and I'd be gland to share, just put 140 College Ave in the subject line.

Mar 16, 2013, 2:36pm Permalink
JoAnne Rock

Either way, tax dollars would be expended. The only difference is that instead of it coming from local tax dollars, it would have been split between State and Federal in the form of sizable personal tax credits for the LLC investors.

Rather than try to paraphrase how it works, read Rick Hauser's blog post on the topic (scroll down to the Tar and Feather post):

The Historic Register program offers tax incentives which is really no different, in principle, than what the GCEDC does...and I believe that taxpayers are entitled to have a say in the matter when tax dollars are used.

Mar 16, 2013, 2:56pm Permalink
Phil Ricci

I just find it really funny that the residents don't have a say at all. Why is it so hard in this state to let taxpayers vote on issues like this?

I mean so far I've heard a few voices saying take it down, but yet a group wanting to try and keep it, a long with a lot of supporters.

So was there ever anything done to ask residents?

Mar 16, 2013, 3:12pm Permalink
Dan Robinson

In response to your post to me:
A) Would you live there? Yes or no?
B) I feel it is the public's business what happens with a privately owned building in this case. Why? Because if it fails for any number of reasons the liability falls back on the tax payers to tear it down. As I see it "letting them try" is nothing more than a village issued insurance policy for the LLC. If success is a sure thing which you have implied, the LLC should have made an out right purchase offer, no stipulations. Or at a bare minimum had the required engineering study done. As you have said, it was savable, so it would have passed the inspection right?

The point has been made by many on here the decision doesn't reflect what the people of the village want. Other than on this page, this thread of comments I have yet to hear one person say we need to save that building. Everyone I have talked to thinks it was the right decision. The results of a village vote would be very interesting in my opinion. As a life long LeRoyan, like Mike Tucci, Bob Taylor and Jim Delooze I don't share your opinion that this decision will make us a community afraid to voice our opinion. That statement is absurd quite frankly. The village's future does not hinge on the wiss hotel's survival. It would be a sad state of affairs if it did.

Mar 17, 2013, 7:14am Permalink
Brett DeKruger

Is there a way that the board's decision can be challenged, or some kind of appeal process? It seems crazy to me that this decision was made without a structural inspection being done. That said, If I were forced to wager on whether the building passed said inspection, I would have to bet that it would not. At least the third floor anyway. However, that's nothing more than an educated guess on my part, depending on where the roof leaks are located and where and if the water infiltration has acutely affected load bearing members.

It's too bad we'll never know what the building could have looked like when complete. It probably would have looked great in it's original wooden clad form, with the ugly split brick facade gone and the tin removed.

One more thing- Above I noticed that Mr. DeLooze's position/ motivations have been called into question due to his potential monetary gain. Well let me ask this: Was Mr. Hauser offering his services for free, or did he stand to profit if the LLC had taken control, and were his opinions on the stability of the building formed, at least in part, because he would have been hired by the LLC ?

Mar 17, 2013, 10:02am Permalink
Jennifer Keys

A.) Yes. I have stated that before, though not here.
B.) That is true for every building/business/home that fails and goes unsold. If they are vacant for what seems like ages, it becomes the government's responsibility, just as it did here. There are many municiplaties throughout the state (and country) that have developed systems for taking such properties quicker and turning them over before they get to the point the Wiss has or worse.

A village vote would be very interesting as here, at Village meetings, on the Wiss Hotel FB page, on the Main Street Revilatization FB page, in emails that I've seen, and the conversations people initiate with me as I walk around the support to sell has been overwhelming.

I do not think that this vote makes people afraid to voice their opinion; my observation is that it makes them wonder why they should as it appears to them (as voiced to me) that it is a waste of time.

Mar 17, 2013, 2:32pm Permalink
Jennifer Keys

I don't know that I can really answer that question for Rick Hauser, but what I do feel comfortable stating is that the success of the LLC does not hinge on the Wiss, it was the catalyst. He had not been hired to do more than put together a feasibility study, nor had he been promised to do more. He is; however, as he has stated several times invested in the future of our Main Street because it is who he is, just at it is who I am.

Also, I suppose that if another architect, 3 contractors, an engineer (the Village's own engineer in fact) and the code enforcement officer from Batavia, all of whom have been through it more recently than Rick Hauser didn't agree with him, then it would make sense to question his motives.

I suppose really anyone's motives could be questioned about anything.

Mar 17, 2013, 2:30pm Permalink
Jennifer Keys

Could I just add without being crucified, there is nothing wrong with being a lifelong Le Royan. There is also nothing wrong with being a "newcomer". I pay my taxes. I volunteer through a ton of committees. My children go to this school. The same is true for the Kemps referenced above and many of our friends. Out of curiosity why is the lifelong Le Royan part so important? It is as if to say the rest of us do not count. Or at least that's what it sounds like to us. Just a thought, again at the risk of being crucified here. :)

Also, what about all of the lifelong Le Royans who are in support of selling it to the LLC. I know I can be dense, but I seriously don't get what that has to do with this discussion.

Mar 17, 2013, 2:36pm Permalink
Jennifer Keys

I just realized I didn't answer part of what you were asking. I apologize.

Yes, it should have not had a problem. Without a guarantee to purchase why would the LLC want to expend the money for the inspection? That's just ludicrous. As stated before, they are reasonable individuals and I'm certain this could have been worked out. They tried negotiating in good faith since the beginning of November. Any stipulation that was brought forth was addressed. If there were others, then whey weren't they also brought forth.

Mar 17, 2013, 2:54pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

I feel quite certain that if the LLC had paid for a thorough structural analysis and the building passed, the board would have voted for demolition.

They just wanted it down. Period.

It's telling that even though Taylor, for example, said the building was beyond repair (though admitting he was no expert in such matters), none of the three trustees against letting the LLC trying to save the Wiss ever offered any kind of hint, even, that a structural analysis might change their mind.

So from the LLC's perspective, it's got to be money well NOT spent. It wouldn't have made a difference.

Mar 17, 2013, 8:08pm Permalink
Mike Piazza

Howard, I was wondering why no one bothered asking Mr Taylor, Mr Tucci & Mr. Bonaquisti if a structural analysis was done and proved that the building/structure was feasible(and if the LLC would be willing to pay for the analysis, like potential homeowners do when potentially buying a house)then they could have sought an injunction(after all, there were 2 lawyers involved with the LLC )to ask for more time to gather more donors/partners to try to move the project forward. You really can't say for certain if the three trustees would have still voted for demolishing the Wiss without anyone asking them......the LCC had plenty of opportunities to ask that question but never did. And why, after the building sat in-active for what, 6 yrs or so, no one bothered to purchase it when it was closed by the previous owners? And this doesn't mean other buildings are going to come down......about 20-25 yrs ago our US Post Office was in jeopardy of being torn down because it was deemed too small and in-efficient, but some LeRoyans'(notably the late Miss Jenny Vitale)mounted an organized opposition to demolishing what is probably in my opinion, the crown jewel of architectural(along with the St. Peter and St. Marks churches') structures in LeRoy.

Mar 17, 2013, 11:11pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Michael, if they're not going to believe the half-dozen or so experts who went through the building and said restoration was possible, what makes you think they would believe one more expert?

You're talking about about three people who had boat loads of excuses to raze the building, but never offered up "get a structural analysis done and I'll consider it."

The massive amounts of facts and logic against tearing down the building didn't seem to bother them, so it's hard to believe any amount of empirical data would persuade them.

Really, by the end of it, none of them were really even arguing the "can it be saved" question. They just wanted it down.

The last thing anybody wanted on either said was more time. One of the few things both sides could agree on was the building is running out of time.

As for why nobody purchased it prior -- asked and answered in previous comments.

Interesting story about the post office that I did not know, but a non-sequitur. The issue with the Wiss, as has been mentioned numerous times, that even its present footprint is not likely to attract a modern developer, but add in the loss of land to a DOT right-of-way, once the grandfathered-in Wiss comes down, then you have an even smaller lot. While maybe not impossible to build on, highly unlikely. The clear, logical conclusion is that the Wiss is easily the first domino to fall on that corner.

Footnote: While I disagree with his decision and his reasoning, it should be noted that Jim Bonacquisti did seem to put the most thought and consideration into this issue. He says he wants something better there. I'm not sure we agree on what "better" is, but I certainly believe that a good-fitting development could come if the right decisions are made.

Mar 18, 2013, 2:10am Permalink
Jennifer Keys

Michael, I can tell you that because I wanted to see it succeed I asked what it would take to make them feel comfortable and they did not answer me.

In reference to why wasn't it purchased before, I wonder if people have been discouraged in the past from purchasing it because "it is beyond repair".

Mar 18, 2013, 7:49am Permalink
C. M. Barons

The bottom line: a building that could have been renovated, returned to the tax rolls, providing living and business opportunity will be torn down, resulting in a public-owned vacant lot suitable for park benches, Pansy-planters and perhaps a historical marker- 'Site of the former Wiss Hotel, early stage-stop on the Iroquois Trail.' This is how development is arrested; one building at a time. The only merit being profit for a demolition company and a wider road to accommodate tankers of Pennsylvania fracking-waste chemicals destined for NY landfills. 'Nice play- Shakespeare!'

Mar 18, 2013, 1:12pm Permalink
Dan Robinson


I made the life long LeRoyan comment, not as a personal jab towards you, I don't know you or your personal history. My point was that knowing those people, that have also lived here their entire life and I'm sure they aren't looking to tear the village down. Jim has made the point many times of the things he has done to preserve Leroy, I think his record speaks for itself. As for your point that many other buildings become government property and are sold so they don't end up like the wiss, yes that is true, but they are sold as it, take it or leave it. This very easily could have ended right back in the villages hands in a short period of time, and need to be torn down ASAP. Like I said, just "letting them try" is nothing more than a village issued insurance policy. And to your answer that "Yes" you would live there, I'm sorry I don't buy it. "If I wanted to live in Henrietta I would" So why would you move to the noisiest, busiest intersection in town? I know, the idea changed to office/retail space. This is all really pointless now, it's coming down like it should have long ago!!!!

Mar 18, 2013, 3:04pm Permalink
Dan Robinson

Also, I don't think it's ludicrous to think that they would have it inspected before buying. People spend money everyday have property inspected before buying it. It's pretty much standard procedure. Yes I realize due to the it's condition, the inspection of the wiss would be very costly but that's the cost of doing business if people want to invest in that type of building.

Mar 18, 2013, 3:19pm Permalink
Mike Piazza

Howard, as for your "As for why nobody purchased it prior -- asked and answered in previous comments" - that may be true, but I'm talking about this thread, and quite honestly, I can't find it anywhere in yours or anyone else's comments in this thread. I do know Mr. Tom Spadaro had made an offer in the RECENT past, but up to that point, I don't believe anyone else had done so until the LLC in the 11 hr. I don't think I mentioned anything in regards to problems putting something on a smaller site because of the DOT issue with the right of way. My point was and it seems we disagree on is, when the WISS is torn down, it will have no bearing(coming down and starting a domino effect) on the other existing long as they are structurally sound that would be a non-issue.

Mar 18, 2013, 4:51pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Michael, I address the issue in my comment #11

Once the Wiss is down, whether neighboring building is structurally sound is in fact a non-issue. A developer who needs the property to create a larger footprint won't give a rip about structural soundness one way or another. All the more reason they are in greater danger.

Mar 18, 2013, 6:26pm Permalink
Jennifer Keys

Thank you, Dan. I apologize for misconstruing what you said. I hear that comment all of the time and don't really understand it. It's kind of dismissive, but I see how you are applying it here varies from how I usually hear it.

The LLC was willing to take the building as is.

Other buildings in the same situation could very easily also be turned back on the tax payers.

I said I wouldn't live in Henrietta, but I would and did live for 14-years in Rochester. It's about aesthetics and convenience. You are correct, though, the point is moot on many levels already discussed.

The reality of this matter, take it or leave it, is that free enterprise, commercialism, and private property are now all that prevent the future destruction of Main Street. It is naiive to say it is one meaningless building.

There is one more thing that can prevent the further destruction of Main Street, people, people holding their boards (planning, zoning, village, all) to the comprehensive plan. Complacency never achieved your goals.

Mar 19, 2013, 7:44am Permalink
Howard B. Owens

On the question of living in apartments on that corner. Would the Howard Owens of 2013 live there? Absolutely not. These days, it wouldn't suit my lifestyle. The noise wouldn't be the biggest factor in that decision.

Would the Howard Owens of 1980 to 1990 live there. He would have loved it and the noise again would be a secondary consideration.

To switch gears a little bit and go back to a prior topic: As for Walgreens ... my objection to Walgreens -- and I think many others agree -- isn't per-se anti-Walgreens. I'd rather have, you know, family owned pharmacies, but sometimes things are what they are. The objection is over the design and layout of the structure.

Let me presence this by saying: Walgreens won't be there forever. Businesses come and go. But when Walgreens is gone, there will be that building, built to suit Walgreens desires, not to maximize the space and ensure it will meet the needs of other business models. I'm not saying another business decades from now couldn't put the space to sue, but it becomes a lot harder when everything is set up for one specific business model.

To paraphrase a village resident who shared the following links with me, the planning of Walgreens "lacked imagination."

Walgreens has shown itself willing over and over to meet community design standards when faced with them.

This is from a neighborhood in New Orleans:…

From the person who sent me the link:

When it came time to build this, the company apparently submitted a range of potential designs for community review. Takeaway quote: "With some encouragement from City Hall, the developers of the Walgreens store planned for Magazine Street have settled on a historic-style design intended to blend with the existing streetscape, abandoning a more modern look they had previously considered."

In Chicago, rather than tear down an old building, Walgreens remodeled to preserve it and still meet their needs.…

Same thing in Brooklyn:…

Here's new construction in Davidson, NC. Why couldn't Le Roy have insisted on something like this for the northwest corner:…

The fact of the matter is, Walgreens wanted to come to Le Roy. As my friend pointed out, the numbers being thrown around by supporters of Walgreens pretty much prove the move was lucrative for Walgreens, so why couldn't they have been required in Le Roy to do something like Davidson (the bigger cities, not necessarily an apples to apples comparison, but still demonstrate Walgreens willingness to work with local communities).

Here's some links on "new urbanism," which is the kind of planning we're talking about here ... it's more sustainable, more attractive, and offers the greatest economic vitality.……

Mar 19, 2013, 9:42am Permalink
Jim DeLooze

Magazine Street in New Orleans compared to Main Street in LeRoy?
Let me start by saying I was mayor of LeRoy when Walgreens was built, and I am very proud of the fact that I was a key player in bringing it here. The Walgreens you see on the corner today and the initial developer plan are two vastly different things. There were many people in LeRoy who worked very hard negotiating with the developer to get the plan to where it is today. The developer was willing to negotiate but only so far. As far as community standards and the master plan you and Jennifer keep referring to, according to New York State it doesn't exist. Andrea Barber and I went to the New York State Mayors' Conference in 2004. At that conference, state officials stated that if your master plan has not been updated in the last 5 to 7 years then you don't have one. Ours was last worked on in 1991.

Howard, what you don't seem to realize is that LeRoy has a very low median income, and we can't always have everything just the way we want it. Businesses have models and business plans that allow them to project their ROI ( Return on investment ). What a developer is willing to spend in a LeRoy is much different than what they're willing to spend in a Fairport where the median income is approximately 3 times that of LeRoy's. At the same time LeRoy was negotiating with Walgreens, Fairport was too. In the end, Fairport put too many demands on the Walgreens developer and they walked; I was not about to let that happen here.

This is a good time to state that I was born and raised in Fairport, a community that constantly wins awards including "Top 100 Communities to Live In" in the United States, but I now live in LeRoy and there is no other place on earth I would rather live. Is it perfect ? No. I would love to have one of the Wegmans like the three that surround the house that I was born in. Would you like to guess why there are no Wegmans in Genesee County? After all, we do shop for groceries here too.

Bottom line: money talks, BS walks.

Mar 19, 2013, 3:26pm Permalink
Chuck Casey

Jim your previously stated that Walgreens met the village standards implying that they met the master plan. Now you tell us the master plan is non existent as deemed by NYS. So what village standards are you talking about? Never mind guess the board makes it up as it goes.

I don't understand what Fairport being one of the best communitys in the US to live in has to do with you unless you were mayor there. At least they were smart enough to keep Walgreens from ruining that.

You won we lose no need for you to keep trying to justifying your position besides you said you were done posting on this subject.

You're really starting to confuse me.

Mar 19, 2013, 4:52pm Permalink
Jim DeLooze

Community standards equal planning board.

Fairport did stop Walgreens but they also tour down their entire Main Street in the early 1970s and rebuilt it.

The subject is now Walgreens.

Mar 19, 2013, 5:14pm Permalink
Kyle Couchman

Nope Jim thats a typical non answer a politician makes. Pretend I'm stupid and spell out the why exactly that there is no Wegmans stores in genesee county. I know you wont but its fun to watch politicians and former politicians avoid direct answers.

Mar 19, 2013, 6:31pm Permalink
Jim DeLooze

Wegmans has a business model. In order to open a store in a certain location, the median income has to be above a certain level. The median income in Genesee County is below that level. That's the best I can do for you Kyle.

Mar 19, 2013, 7:07pm Permalink
Jennifer Keys

Yet there is a Wegmans in Chemung county where the median level was comparable last I looked.

Also, there's the fact that so many of us shop there anyway. They certainly could be sustainable here.

Jim, we campaigned together. You campaigned on how no one was following the Master Plan and how important it is, but now it's not? Which is it? The people who buy into it and agree with it think it's worth it, not to mention that they've been asking (me included) for it to be updated.

It's up to the community to make sure it is followed since it hasn't been.

The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over and over and expect different results. This can be applied on several levels here.

Mar 19, 2013, 7:28pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens


No master plan = no community standards.

A planning board operating without a master plan doesn't represent community standards. It represents no direction and "we'll do what the hell we want" regardless of what the community wants. I know there were and are a lot of people in Le Roy who don't like the Walgreens development.

Any economic calculation about Walgreens better also include the loss of revenue and jobs from the incumbent drug store closing after Walgreens opened.

I'm sorry to be critical of a project that I'm sure worked very hard on, but I stand by my comments. As a pure matter of economic growth, Le Roy could have done better than the current Walgreens development. We'll never know if Walgreens would have walked away if a different structure was required. I'm still betting they would not have.

Mar 20, 2013, 2:17pm Permalink
bud prevost

In comparison to what was on that NW corner of 5 and 19, Walgreens is beautiful, and generates much more sales tax revenue than the empty storefronts that were knocked down. The Coin shop was the only occupied store front, with a dilapidated apt building, an empty napa store, empty gas station, and the tax exempt clubs that the Masons and fireman occupied. Anyone else remember seeing rats foraging around there? I do. Now it's time to clean up that other corner, and get up Steve Hawley's ass to get the DOT to fix that intersection. The Wiss was the excuse as to why it wasn't done the last time they reconfigured that intersection, but it won't be an excuse anymore.

Mar 20, 2013, 2:31pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Bud, I've purposefully stayed away from the comparison of what was there before. The issue is what should have been done, and what that portends (with all the dark connotations of that word) for the rest of Main Street now.

Mar 20, 2013, 2:59pm Permalink

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