Q & A on Chateau Theatre

Jay said Facts-on-chateau-purchase-needed-quickly, I will try to oblige.

1. $6 million? When has the city invested that type of money in an open-ended project of this kind?

This is unique in my time on the council. This is being done because it is an irreplaceable building, beloved by the community, and in a key location. Community advocacy lead directly to this decision. I personally would not have announced this until we actually had a signed agreement. Seemed a bit premature. Don’t forget we are also going to lose tax capacity as a result of the purchase.

2. $500,000? Is that really the best Mayo can do?

The council had agreed to $5.5 million Mayo was asked to fill in the gap. We are appreciative of Mayo’s assistance. Renovating the building will take millions more. I hope that Mayo, UMR, DMC are all partners in rehabilitating, operating, maintaining, and programming the building.

3. Is the theater right-priced at $6 million?

No, it is overpriced like everything else in downtown Rochester. If we had a strong preservation ordinance in place taxpayers could have saved millions because the threat of demolition and rebuilding would not have inflated the value.

I wanted to hire a 3rd party to negotiate on our behalf but that idea died when neither administration nor the council supported it.

4. The building is 88 years old. Do we know everything about its condition?

The building needs a lot of work. I visited the roof, rafters, and back rooms. The 2nd level should be removed and theater seating should be reintroduced.

5. How will the city pay for it?

Our expectation is the $5.5 million will count against our $128 million DMC obligation. The real source of funds is the almost certainly 0.25% DMC sales tax.

6. Will the city get any money from DMC to buy it?

My support was 100% predicated on full credit from DMC. I expect them to fully recognize our contribution.

7. How does it advance the goals of DMC?

This is a signature building with a rich arts history. The facility can be converted into a multi faceted building with the potential to offer divers arts programing in the heart of the city all day every day. The building could also hold special presentations, dinners, graduations and other civic events in a way that is different than the civic center.

8. What will the process be to determine a future use?

My personal hope is that we can create a publically appointed trust to oversee the details for the building in the future. To be clear the building will need millions in work before it is ready for primetime.

9. How much more will it cost to make it usable?

Millions, figure a removal of the 2nd floor, reconstruction of the ground floor, improved HVAC, new roof, interior finishes. I think there is also an opportunity to wore with adjacent buildings to integrate a nearby destination restaurant or other related service.

10. Is there an off-ramp?

Well, right now the off ramp is the fact we don’t have an agreement. Once the agreement is signed we are in it for the long run.

11. What happens if the city rejects the deal?

There was broad consensus (8-0) to proceed, the only thing that I could see derailing the project is if the DMC board decided to not recognize the city’s contribution. I don’t think that is likely.


  1. the only real number one responsibility imo is to make the building safe – keeping as much of the present interior intact as possible.

    once safety is established at that time business (hopefully local) could come in and do changes it deems necessary keeping historical integrity as a prerequisite in mind. some may be civic/some private but put the burden of improvement on the business not the public unless it is specifically public use. any investment beyond safety needs to be paid for my user fees to contain damage to building and debt to taxpayers.

  2. Just a few months ago the PB had an article on the theater and that it was for sale for 5million. That was also the price on Hamilton Real Estate. Why did the city pay 6 million?

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