Demolition Program


The City's Demolition Program helps stabilize and improve our neighborhoods by removing unsafe, blighted and abandoned structures.  The City of Rochester has processes to facilitate the demolition of privately owned and city owned vacant structures.

Once the City takes ownership of a structure, it is assessed by staff to determine if it should be sold or demolished. If it is determined that the structure should be demolished, it is placed on a demolition chart and will follow the necessary stages of demolition including asbestos survey and abatement which is bid out to demolition contractors and then ultimately demolished.

Privately owned vacant structures that are deemed unsafe or dangerous to the health, safety or welfare of the public or a vacant building that is determined to be a public nuisance will be subject to the City's private demolition hearing process.  These determinations are made in accordance with section 47-A16 of the City Code and are as follows:

A structure is deemed unsafe or dangerous when any of the following conditions exist:  

  • The building walls or other structures are in poor structural condition or there are major structural defects
  • The building and its contents constitute a fire hazard
  • Violations of Chapter 90, the Property Code, exist which are a danger to health, safety and public welfare
  • Other conditions exist which endanger the health, safety or welfare of the public

A structure is a public nuisance when any of the following conditions exists:   

  • The building or structure is abandoned
    • A building or structure is abandoned when it has been vacant for more than a year and the owner has failed to correct violations of Chapter 90, the Property Code, in accordance with a notice or notices of violation issued by the City.
  • The building or structure is a blighted premise
    • A building or structure is a blighted premise when there exists a violation or violations, including continuing violations which are not corrected, involving the building or structure of any of the provisions of Chapter 90, Property Code, occurring on four or more occasions within a period of six months or six or more occasions within a period of 12 months.    

Demolition Hearing 

The demolition hearing is conducted by a third-party independent hearing officer. The hearing officer will render a written decision within 21 days of the conclusion of the hearing. The hearing officer's decision will include written findings which shall refer to the evidence in the record, setting forth the basis for the decision and conclusions citing the specific determination of the hearing officer. The hearing officer's decision will be a final determination for the purpose of judicial review pursuant to Civil Practice Law and Rules ยง7803, Subdivision 4.

The cost of demolition will be a personal liability of the owner. The cost of demolition shall include the cost of removal of demolition debris.  Such costs will also be a lien upon the property and may be added to the subject property tax bill.

To view all Planned and Completed demolitions, please view the Demolition Tracker

You can determine if a vacant structure is designated as a demo case by accessing the City's Vacant Property Map.  For more information on demolition, you may contact (585) 428-6963.