Café Sol and Skyway cocktail lounge to fill former skyway building in downtown Rochester



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Here’s a breakdown of the stories right now at www.democratandchronicle.com. Virginia Butler

Triangular in shape and all glass, the vacant structure at East Broad Street and Clinton Square is a remnant of downtown Rochester’s defunct skyway system.

The building sits in the shadow of Xerox Tower. The word “skyway” remains above its locked doors, leading to a cavernous space filled only with a stairway and elevator shaft.

All that should change this summer.

Plans are to reopen the space in mid-August as Café Sol by day, and the Skyway cocktail lounge by night. Developer Tom Ferrera has called on renowned lighting, design and sound experts to create the space. The furniture is being shipped from Italy.

“It’s going to feel like walking into a lobby lounge of a hotel in Berlin or Milan,” he said. “It’s going to be pretty snazzy. … If you have ever walked into the Soho Grand (Hotel) in New York City, they have a lobby lounge. It’s going to feel like that.”

The cafe-to-club concept might sound familiar to longtime Rochesterians. It was Ferrera who operated Carpe Diem back in the 1990s, in what today is Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. That venue, with three dance floors and a 70-foot-long bar overlooking the river, was called “new-age” at the time — bringing a slice of New York City nightlife to Rochester.

More: They seized the night at Carpe Diem

Café Sol will be a Nespresso-branded café, open Mondays through Saturdays with internationally inspired food and beverages. The food, like charcuterie and sandwiches, will be assembled onsite. Skyway — described as “a chic and modern cocktail lounge” — will open starting at 4 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, Ferrera said.

There will be a dance floor, and on the third level the Cielo Lounge (meaning “sky” or “heaven”) will have waitress service and a separate sound system. The upper level will extend into a Broad Street leg of the skyway, and could be reserved for private parties at night and business meetings and presentations during the day, Ferrera said.

Marketing the property was no easy task, said Rich Finley, chief operating officer with building owner Buckingham Properties.

Buckingham bought the building in 2013 and quickly set about tearing out the old escalator to open up the space so people could see its potential, Finley said. But not only are there no amenities like bathrooms, there also is no water service.

Renovations of the 3,800-square-foot space will be in the range of $650,000, officials said. Monroe County has approved sales tax exemptions for the project. Equipment, furniture and fixtures alone (Ferrera’s investment) are estimated at $245,000, records show. 

“The first person who walked me through that building was (Buckingham founder, the late) Larry Glazer,” said Ferrera, who was working with Glazer on a concept for the Midtown block called “The Grove.” “He said, ‘Tom, what can I do with this?’ I had no idea. But between the second and third level, I said, ‘Carpe Diem.'”

BDSHARP@Gannett.com

 

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