The Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School Campus is ready for redevelopment.
Spot on Development and Flaum Management Co. have partnered to offer adaptive re-use opportunities for developers looking to create prime event space and housing.
“We want to preserve the beauty of the campus while opening it up to new uses,” said Mike Palumbo, chief operation officer of Flaum Management. “There is very desirable space in the existing buildings and room for new housing options. We are really excited to help shape the future of this prized property.”
Spot on Development is currently working with the city of Rochester for a Planned Development District for this property. The 22.5-acre parcel is situated at the corner of South Goodman Street and Highland Avenue and was first conceptualized as a theological institution in the 1920s by architect James Gamble Rogers. The main campus was constructed in 1932.
Strong Hall is the most prominent building and the centerpiece of the redevelopment project. The building has more than 76,000 square feet of space on three floors. It contains a Victorian chapel with a historic pipe organ and a Grand Banquet Hall that can be used for hosting receptions and parties. There is an expansive outdoor patio on the highest hill in southwestern Rochester with views of the Bristol Valley for photo opportunities and seasonal parties.
“This really is a treasure,“ said Palumbo. “Wedding planners have known for years this is the premier wedding destination in Upstate New York for couples who want their ceremony and celebration in one location. In addition, there is top-notch event space throughout the building to accommodate corporate groups and organizations for meetings and training sessions.”
Flaum Management Co. listed the property in October 2018. As part of its adaptive re-use, the campus could include multiple tenants leasing buildings for offices, schools/classrooms and shared workspaces. Currently, there are no plans to build a new hotel on the property, but Strong Hall could be transformed into a boutique hotel or senior living center. Palumbo pointed out that Strong Hall went through a $6 million renovation in 2007.
“It’s a perfect setting. There’s a new auditorium and a renovated gymnasium that would be very valuable to hospitality entities, schools or community-based organizations,“ said Palumbo.
There are initial plans to create two new structures. The largest building would be a 150,000-square-foot L-shaped structure on the northwest corner of the property, hidden in the shadow of Strong Hall. The building would include 115 housing units designed for potential assisted living apartments or senior living. In addition, a 16,000-square-foot rectangular building would be constructed for 10 units on the far eastern side of the property. This aligns with the boundary between the city of Rochester and the town of Brighton. There are two existing buildings on the northeastern corner of the property that were previously used for housing which will be renovated with modern-day amenities to create 28 apartments.
“The group has spent a lot of time discussing options with the neighbors and it was clear they did not want anything built on the South Lawn,” said Palumbo.
The South Lawn is the rolling hill which descends from the edge of the campus buildings and extends all the way down to Highland Avenue. There are 2,000 feet of road frontage.
“We have no plans to develop that area at this time,” said Palumbo.
However, Palumbo says these proposals must remain fluid to meet preservation requirements and to offset the cost of maintaining the existing structures which date back to the early 1930s.
“We have listened to city planners plus Landmark Society officials and are dedicated to maintaining the historic nature of this beautiful campus. Still, we are focused on the future and making this available to the next generation as well,” said Palumbo.