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Residential building set for Armory site

Rochester Business Journal
June 27, 2014

Construction of the residential portion of the Culver Road Armory is to begin this year, with plans to erect a five-story building.

Work on the residential building, with two units per floor, is scheduled to begin this fall and be completed by the second quarter of 2015, said Fred Rainaldi Jr., managing partner of Whitney Baird Associates LLC, an affiliate of Rainaldi Real Estate.

Rainaldi is the site’s developer along with his father, Fred Rainaldi Sr., and his uncle, Richard Rainaldi. The family also is developing the mixed-use High Point project in Victor, across from Eastview Mall.

The Rainaldis started work on the five-acre Culver Road Armory site in 2010 with the goal of making it a fashion, design and culinary destination with premium office and contemporary retail spaces. The development emerged from Fred Rainaldi Sr.’s love of the original building and evolved from there, his son said.

The two existing buildings, totaling 100,000 square feet, were designed to offer a modern, high-end design environment with an emphasis on creativity, the younger Rainaldi explained.

Tenants range from contemporary retail stores to law offices and restaurants.

“We want to make sure it’s always a destination,” Rainaldi said. “Our goal is to get people excited about a total experience again.”

Future plans for the five-acre site include the addition of hiking trails and community gardens, as well as a 4,000-square-foot exhibition space.

A heated rooftop yoga studio will be added on top of the second Armory building, which was constructed last year. A large retailer also is expected to be announced in the coming months.

The success of the design has been the ability to achieve the look and feel of a contemporary art museum with the original beauty of the historic brick, Rainaldi said.

Glowing frame-like vestibules are at key entries, which extend through the facade. The original fenestrations have full-height glass panes. A museum-like glass and metal screen facade enhances the building’s exterior.

Boston-based SoSoLimited has created a digital network—a bank of computers—for one of the walls of the building. The art and technology studio, which specializes in interactive environments and multisensory design, is planning other projects for the site as well.

Peter Wehner, president of the Rochester chapter of the American Institute of Architects, said the Armory’s style gets noticed.

“People are accepting of the contemporary style,” he said. “It is very en vogue right now and creates some excitement there.”

Wehner, an associate and senior project architect with Passero Associates P.C., said the Rainaldi family—which worked with Rochester-based Hanlon Architects P.C. and New York City-based Philip Michael Brown Studio on the Armory designs—is becoming known for its contemporary style.

The Culver Road Armory, across from Cobbs Hill Park, was constructed in 1916 for the Army National Guard and was home to the 121st Calvary Division stables and training ground. It later was converted into Army vehicle maintenance garages.

The most recent addition at the site is Arhaus Furniture Homeworks Inc., which opened a 14,000-square-foot store featuring handcrafted furniture and accessories.

Other tenants at the Armory include Alex and Ani; Boylan Code LLP; Consilium1 LLC; D. Kent & Co. LLC; Erdman Anthony; Fleet Feet Sports Inc.; MRB Group Engineering, Architecture, Surveying P.C.; and Trata.

Local restaurateur Charles Fitzsimmons, owner of the three-story restaurant Trata, is constructing a Village Bakery & Cafe at the site, with its opening scheduled for the second week of July. This will be the second Village Bakery & Cafe location; the first is in Pittsford.

In addition to Trata and the Village Bakery & Cafe, Fitzsimmons owns Black & Blue Steak and Crab in Pittsford and in Amherst, Erie County; JoJo’s Bistro & Wine Bar in Pittsford and Amherst; and Marche Culinary Events Catering Service.

Fitzsimmons said Fred Rainaldi Sr.’s passion for the site, coupled with his commitment to transform it from an old, vacant building into a vibrant structure, was the initial reason he decided to locate a business there.

The mix of tenants, along with easy access to the site and the look of the property, has also been a factor in his decision to continue to expand there.

“It has the right mix of tenants and is a neat area of the city,” Fitzsimmons said.

Fred Rainaldi Jr. believes the city is at the start of an impressive resurgence.

“We are proud and excited to be part of it,” he said.

6/27/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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