After engineers discovered that a portion of the grain elevator, a curb cut and a driveway encroach into the right of way at  East University Drive and Water Street, the Rochester City Council recently agreed to grant Moceri Elevate LLC an easement. Moceri said the development team plans to keep the northern portion of the red barn structure intact.

After engineers discovered that a portion of the grain elevator, a curb cut and a driveway encroach into the right of way at East University Drive and Water Street, the Rochester City Council recently agreed to grant Moceri Elevate LLC an easement. Moceri said the development team plans to keep the northern portion of the red barn structure intact.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


Developer: Portion of historic grain elevator barn will be saved

Council unanimously grants developer easement for property

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published November 9, 2022

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ROCHESTER — A new development is in the works to take the place of Rochester’s oldest business, the Rochester Elevator Co., at the corner of University and Water streets in downtown Rochester.

The property, at 303 E. University St. and 412 Water St., is now under contract for purchase by Moceri Elevate LLC. Dominic F. Moceri said the company is teaming up with Frank Rewold & Sons, which are currently under contract together to build a new development on the site.

Attorney John J. Premo, who represents Moceri Elevate LLC, said that when his client entered into a contract for the purchase of the property, engineers discovered there is a portion of the grain elevator, a curb cut and a driveway that encroach into the right of way for East University Drive and Water Street.

“Our engineers put us on notice that we have a problem. We don’t know where it came from and we don’t know how long it’s been that way, but we do know one thing — we know that Water Street kind of tailors around it. You would kind of think that the building was there before the street was,” Premo said.

Moceri appeared before the Rochester City Council Oct. 10 requesting the city approve an easement allowing for the encroachments to legally continue — a step Rochester City Attorney Jeffrey Kragt said is necessary for the developers in order to obtain a clean title, close on the property and be able to utilize the encroachment area as it currently exists.

“As is the case when encroachments are found, that becomes problematic for lenders and title companies, so that was brought to the attention of Moceri, so that got their legal counsel to contact me,” Kragt said. “How to make it legal would be to have an easement … which would allow the closing to occur without having to knock down the building.”

Moceri said the team requested the easement because the developers plan to keep the northern portion of the red barn structure intact.

“It’s undoubtedly the intent of the development to keep the most prominent part of the property, which is the barn itself. We are going to be making it a community benefit, more of a place of tribute to what it once was. It’s obviously very, very old, so we’re going to be sprucing it up and making it as up-to-code as possible and safe for everybody to come see it,” Moceri said. “It will remain. I can promise you that.”

The Rochester City Council voted 7-0 to approve the request during the meeting.

The motion, according to Kragt, allows the current barn structure to remain and stipulates that if the elevator building is destroyed or removed, that portion of the easement area would be leveled and grassed. He said the developer also would need to come to the city to obtain approval for any new structures or buildings in the easement area, and could not do so without the city’s consent.

The 140-year-old grain elevator and the property it sits on had previously been under contract for purchase by developers Frank Rewold & Sons since 2020. The company, in tandem with the city of Rochester, received a $1 million grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy to help clean up ground contamination on the site of the historic Rochester grain elevator. Moceri said the brownfield grant has since been transferred to the development team and extended for two years.

“I have signed off on contracts with a demolition company to further use some of that grant up. The demolition underway would be of 412 Water St., which is the abandoned white storefront that neighbors the Mills property,” said Moceri. “We’re not just going to be sitting on this. This is something that’s going to be happening. That brownfield grant is not going to waste.”

Frank Rewold & Sons is no stranger to brownfield redevelopment. The company cleaned up the city’s largest vacant property, an environmentally contaminated site formerly occupied by ITT Automotive, to build its 45,000-square-foot, four-story headquarters on Water Street in 2018. Approximately $1 million of the cleanup costs on the site were provided by a state grant.

The Rochester Elevator Co. grain elevator was built by Charles K. Griggs in 1880. Over the years, officials said, a number of industrial uses on a nearby property left behind a host of contaminants in the soil that spread to the site of the Rochester Elevator Co.

The site consists of one building constructed in 1880 and two additions, which were added to the main building in 1909, according to the city’s Historic District Study Committee. The establishment is recognized by the Historical Society of Michigan and was added in 2010 to the National Register of Historic Places in Michigan.

The site is currently owned by Lawrence Smith, who Moceri said will remain operating the property until the end of March 2023.

The new development is currently in the conceptual phase, and at press time, the developer had not yet submitted plans to the city. The development plans will be shared at the Planning Commission, and ultimately the City Council for possible approval.

Moceri said the team will submit its development plan to the city soon and reiterated that the developers will be keeping the northern portion of the red barn structure on the elevator property intact.

“Everybody is very passionate about this portion of the property — and we’re going to save it,” said Moceri. “It’s not, ‘We’re gonna try.’ It’s going to be saved.”

For more information about the project, contact the city of Rochester at (248) 733-3700.

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