Is this the end of the Sibley building saga?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

It seems the tragedy of the Sibley Building in Rochester is finally coming to an end or at the very least the start of a new act. At the end of August, Rochwil finally sold the building to Winn Development. If you were not paying attention this was a building that owed Rochester more than $20 million in back taxes and unpaid loans. The building has just been sold for $5 million. This deals gives the city $3.1 million of the total and uses the rest to pay off debts to two unions who also were fleeced by the Wilmorite (owners behind the shell company Rochwil), The rest of the money owed for the building is being kept as a debt for Rochwil which will soon declare bankruptcy and wipe this out.

So now we must hope the next holder of this property will be better than the previous one. Add to this the fact that the City of Rochester announced this sale on a Friday afternoon, the typical day and time governments release news they do not want people to pay attention to. There is obviously something not good about this deal that we do not know about. But let’s focus on what we know.

Under deals already sketched out, Winn Development will pay $75,000 in property taxes or an assessed value of $1.36 million even though they bought the property for $5 million. Of course this building also has a tenant for 4 more years that will pay $3.5 million a year. So the building will be a cash cow for a few years and even then the taxes will be tied to the rents collected. This is the sort of deal that allows owners to ignore property and keep it vacant.

Meanwhile we get little tax value from this property. This seems like a good deal for Winn, but not so much for the taxpayers and residents of Rochester. Of course it is possible Winn Development will surprise me by fixing the building and turning it into a vibrant part of downtown, but I will not hold my breath waiting.


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...on Transforming Rochester on Rochester Free Radio. You can see when it's on at the Rochester Free Radio show schedule.

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