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Castle Community owners silent, 48 days into 60-day compliance period

The Castle Community has until Jan. 10 to come back into compliance with the City of Rochester. More than two-thirds of the way through its allotted 60-day grace period, no one seems to know how the Castle Community is going to do it.

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The Castle on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in downtown Rochester. Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
Joe Ahlquist
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The Castle Community has until Jan. 10 to come back into compliance with the City of Rochester.

More than two-thirds of the way through its allotted 60-day grace period, no one seems to know how they’re going to do it.

On Nov. 11, the City of Rochester issued an initial notice to The Castle, LLC regarding an alleged breach of contract , given the organization’s continued contract with Echo Church.

The Castle Community, LLC owners have not responded to near-weekly requests for updates since late November.

Threshold Arts executive director Naura Anderson said she didn’t have anything new to report in late December.

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In September 2020, the Castle Community signed a contract with Echo Church that would allow the religious organization to occupy the building for a calendar year, while previous community partners Threshold Arts, Neon Green Studio, Queen City Coffee and Juice, and others found other places to operate.

Then the Castle owners extended Echo Church’s contract twice, by 60 days each.

The city selected Castle Community from a group of competing proposals three years ago to bring public life to the former armory. Per the contract, if substantive changes to the building’s use were made without city approval, the Castle owners had 60 days to comply with the proposed terms of use, which are to expand art and cultural activities in Rochester

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The City of Rochester believes that the Castle owners are still looking for ways to both comply with its proposed terms of use, and keep Echo Church operating from the building, Deputy City Administrator Aaron Parrish said.

He said the Castle owners have not submitted a definitive proposal about how they will comply with the development agreement.

“They have made a preliminary request to extend the timeframe for coming into compliance, which we will evaluate once formally received,” Parrish said. “Our expectation is that any requests for extension to come into compliance would be predicated on extending the overall compliance period for the development agreement (five years of activation consistent with the request for proposal). … We will evaluate the specific plan to move toward compliance once it is received.”

Bre Holtan, the owner of Queen City Coffee and Juice, confirmed that she would move back into the Castle Community in 2022.

Holtan, who is in a relationship with Castle Community co-owner Ross Henderson, said in early December that she would keep the juice bar’s current location at 3100 19th St. NW, Rochester, as well.

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“I am looking forward to being back in the Castle,” she said. “Looks like (it will be) at the beginning of the year."

Pastor Andy Cass of Echo Church, contacted in the week before Christmas, was not aware that Queen City had been approached to rejoin the Castle.

Cass said he did not know whether Echo Church would remain in the Castle.

"We've had official notice of departure for this place, yet there are conversations happening," he said.

On Dec. 20, Cass indicated that he thought Castle ownership would contact him the next day with news about the church's future.

If the church was evicted, he said, he would "happily" talk to the Post-Bulletin about its next move.

Cass did not respond to calls for comment on Dec. 22.

Email: ahalliwell@rochestermagazine.com
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