How Rochester, NY’s Village Gate Owes Denver

Historic properties often inhabit run-down, sketchy parts of towns and large cities. A sad aura hangs over them, and makes people feel sad for them. Parts of downtown Denver were once like that, Gary Stern noticed when he visited there in the 1980s. He saw how entrepreneurs were snapping up such properties. They repurposed them into businesses and homes. Stern though that if they could do that, he could, too. He returned to his native Rochester NY and began looking for properties to repurpose. He found the perfect spot in what would become Village Gate.

The Original Property

Part of the downtown area has been industrial for over one hundred years. The slow slide of Eastman Kodak and the abandoned factory site of Stecher-Traung Lithographic Company are only two of the companies that once thrived here. Stern and a friend and business partner used every penny they had between them to buy the former world-famous lithographic building to begin repurposing. The idea was to revitalize this former industrial area, to bring it into the 20th century, to give entrepreneurs and small businesses a place to be born, so to speak.

In the Beginning

At first, it wasn’t a huge success. The first business to move into the revitalized Village Gate was a flea market. That didn’t stop Stern, though. He opened up the 500,000 square feet property to artists for their workshops and even established an art gallery. Ten years later, the area was known for its art and antique dealers. It was fast becoming an “urban hub”, says Democrat and Chronicle. Restaurants began moving in. Stern bought more properties around Village Gate in 277, 302, 316, and 320 North Goodman, and at 176 Anderson Ave. Every penny Stern and his business partner made went back into the properties. In twenty years time, Village Gate would be packed with businesses, and the University Ave area would be known as the home of the arts.


Today’s historic buildings as well as some modern buildings have gained new lives as multi-use buildings. When one can live on one floor, have supper on another, work out in a gym and attend a spa afterward on yet another floor, then perhaps even go to work on another floor, this gives multi-use buildings the cachet they enjoy today. Millennials, young urban professionals, singles and young families find these multi-use buildings satisfactory places to live and work. Denver, as well as other large cities, is so populated that they have parking problems. This is another point that makes multi-use buildings so popular.

Repurposing historic buildings gives people jobs, places to live and stores to patronize. What was once a downtrodden area is now new and vital. The arts have given Village Gate a new lease on life. Some of the restaurants are local sourcing farm-to-table establishments. Health care has a large presence here. People move to Rochester for these things, and that is what Village Gate owes to Denver.