RochesterJuly 11, 2012
Chapman House renovations under way
By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer
ROCHESTER — The Chapman House, 311 Walnut Blvd., has long been one of downtown Rochester’s historic gems.
In 1916, William Clark Chapman built the two-story mansion, which remained in the Chapman family until 1973, according to the Rochester-Avon Historical Society. Since then, the property has housed a number of businesses, the most recent being a specialty interior design firm that closed less than a year and half ago.
The Italian Renaissance-style residence has since been vacant, but it won’t be for much longer.
Bentley Property Holdings LLC is in the process of renovating the building and converting it into a mixed-use facility that will include a restaurant serving French-inspired cuisine and alcohol, a retail area for specialty foods, and an outdoor gathering space. The backyard of the property has been designed to accommodate a myriad of events, and will be available for private gatherings, such as showers, intimate wedding ceremonies and receptions, corporate gatherings, birthday celebrations and more. When the garden area is not in use for private events, it will supplement outdoor dining that will be provided on a dining terrace erected at the southeast front corner of the property.
“We’re really happy that this community gem is going to be preserved, improved and utilized as a restaurant for the city,” City Manager Jaymes Vettraino said.
Geoffrey Dancik of Bentley Property Holdings LLC said in an email that the property will retain the Chapman House name in homage to the “significant contributions” that the Chapman family has made to Rochester, but the restaurant and retail area will each hold separate names “to best evoke the theme of the business,” which will be disclosed in the near future.
Throughout the process, Vettraino said, the developer has communicated to the city that they truly understand the value that the historic Chapman House has for the community. From day one, he said, the developer has been creative in making sure that the building retains its historical character and its important historical features, while at the same time turning it into a functional restaurant.
“Some of the early concerns that the Planning Commission had with the project were the impact that a restaurant would have on the nearby residential neighborhoods. Through the planning process, the Chapman House owners have done everything in their power to make sure that sounds and other things that will happen at a standard restaurant doesn’t impact the neighborhood — specifically sound and traffic. They have gone above and beyond city general requirements to truly try and make it fit in with its neighbors. They have also had meetings with the local neighbors. At the end of the day, when the approvals came from Planning Commission and City Council as a special project, everybody was extremely happy with the plans as they were drawn up,” he said.
Acclaimed for their work on historic properties, Quinn Evans Architects crafted the plan to preserve the property and its character-defining elements, both inside and out.
“We’re very serious about making sure this project is going to fit in the neighborhood. We really do feel this project is going to be good for the community. This restaurant and event space is going to provide a destination, which is, we believe, going to bring more people down to town, and that’s going to be good for the businesses in the Central Business District, good for the other restaurants in the area and good for the economy of Rochester,” said Patrick Roach of Quinn Evans Architects.
Crews have been working on the project since last summer, according to Dancik, who noted that the improvements to the property — both inside and out — are extensive and will take time and require a great deal of care.
“Our team continues diligently working to improve and restore the property in preparation for its future operations,” he said in an email.
Dancik said that the improvements to the property and the preservation of its historic features are far reaching. Some of the visible improvements include replacing the roof; the installation of copper gutters, an elevator, new restrooms, and a commercial kitchen; restoring the wood shutters, windows, trim, pool coping, light fixtures and iron work; and the inclusion of extensive formal gardens, a green wall, and a dining terrace.
“Our community is very excited to see some of that work that is going on outside, but on the inside, they are also making all the renovations necessary to get it ready for a restaurant,” Vettraino said.
Given the scope of work and variables outside of the developer’s control — such as the weather — Dancik said in an email he is not comfortable publicly disclosing an opening date at this time.
“Our principal objective is to deliver an impeccable venue with operations that are equally as refined. We pride ourselves on our acute attention to detail,” he said in an email.
Project updates will be provided at www.chapman-house.com.
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