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How about moving the corn tower?

January 6, 2019

Seneca Foods has indicated a willingness to see the iconic corn cob water tower moved, rather than have it designated as a potential landmark where it stands.

The Rochester City Council is slated to review the tower’s status during its 7 p.m. meeting Monday in council chambers of the city-county Government Center.

The city’s Historic Preservation Commission has recommended adding the tower to the city’s list of potential landmark properties, which would add a layer of review if Seneca or a future owner seeks to demolish the structure.

In response to the commission’s recommendation, David Pederson, of the Dunlap and Seeger law firm, submitted a letter on Seneca’s behalf this week asking the council to hold off on a decision and work with the company to move the tower.

“Seneca proposes to enter into an agreement whereby Seneca will donate the tower to the city and the city will remove it within a reasonable timeframe,” he wrote in the letter dated Wednesday.

Pederson, who is a former member of the Historic Preservation Commission, noted the company has closed its canning operation at the site and is marketing the property, which could return lost jobs to the city.

“The presence of the tower in the middle of the property creates a marketability issue as it is unlikely another business will want or need the tower for its operations,” he wrote.

According to an HPC report, the canning facility at 1217 Third Ave. SE was built by Reid Murdock in 1929. The facility, along with the water tower, was later owned by Libby’s and Seneca Foods.

Discussion of the tower’s status has spurred an outpouring of support, which includes emails from more than 50 current and former Rochester residents, as well as “Save the Tower” events, artwork and at least one song.

In addition to the tower, the council will consider placing 10 other properties on the potential landmark list Monday. They are Assisi Heights, the Bulbulian House at 1229 Skyline Drive SW, the Charles Sheard residence at 2217 Balsam Court SW, and seven Mayo Clinic buildings: the Eisenberg Building, the Joseph Building, the Charlton Building, the Francis Building, the Alfred Building, the Convent Building and the Chapel.

The public hearing on the Heritage Preservation Commission recommendations is the last of five hearings scheduled for Monday’s meeting.

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