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Castle Community receives three-month extension

The building owners have until March 31 to return it to arts and cultural use.

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The Castle in downtown Rochester. Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
Joe Ahlquist

ROCHESTER — The Castle building owners have deferred any decisions about Echo Church, Threshold Arts and the use of the building until the end of March.

As the owners’ 60-day compliance deadline drew close , Scott Hoss of the Castle Community, LLC, asked for and received a three-month extension on Dec. 29, 2021, from the city.

According to Scott Hoss’ request to the city, the Castle owners are working to negotiate a lease with an arts and cultural group that would take over programming on the second and third floors of the Castle, as Threshold Arts has in the past.

Threshold Arts may not be that organization going forward.

Currently, Hoss’ request read, the Castle owners are negotiating with several artistic organizations, but the “most viable” option may be an organization named Amplify Arts.

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“If we cannot reach an agreement with Amplify Arts or another group (Cameo representative, Threshold, other), we will continue to seek a tenant to program the space and find temporary solutions in the spirit of our original intent during that time,” Hoss wrote.

Deputy City Administrator Aaron Parrish said the city’s intent is that the Castle have a solution to its breach of contract in place by March 31, 2022.

The Castle owners indicated that lease negotiations and “tenant improvements/adjustments” would take more time than allowed, Parrish said.

“During the pandemic, we have attempted to work with various partners to ensure compliance with agreements and respect the environment that they are working in,” he added. “By extending the compliance period, we still adhere to the activation period while recognizing that many venues are constantly adapting and repositioning.”

The City of Rochester had previously notified the Castle owners that Echo Church’s continued residence in the building was a breach of contract. The owners were given until Jan. 10, 2022, to come back into compliance with their original agreement to use the space for art and cultural growth.

Project manager Jaymi Wilson with the City of Rochester said that in exchange for the extension, the Castle owners would add three months to the end of the Development Agreement contract.

This would ensure that the Castle building would be used for the purposes outlined in the sale agreement until Feb. 28, 2024.

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The initial agreement would have elapsed Nov. 30, 2023.

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Queen City Coffee & Juice owner Bre Holtan said her initial estimate that she would be back in the Castle at the start of the year was no longer accurate.

She had been told that she would move back at the end of Echo Church's lease in 2021, a date that has now shifted several times.

“I’ve been told that I could go back in September, I could go back in November…” she said. “I’m just on standby.”

Holtan said she is waiting patiently for a new move-in date.

Castle Community, LLC members Hoss, Eric Deutsch, Ross Henderson and Leyzer Topel have not responded to repeated requests for information since mid-November.

Threshold Arts executive director Naura Anderson said Thursday, Jan. 6, that she had no new information regarding the arts organization’s future at the Castle.

A previous version of this article indicated that Bre Holtan had heard she would move back into the Castle in September or October of 2022. She has since clarified that she had intended to move back in the fall of 2021.

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